Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance

Supporting Visitors, the Economy & our Neighborhoods


Vacation rental owners provide furnished homes to guests for stays of less than 30 days. This is an important part of local visitor services. People looking for more unique and personal accommodations love vacation rentals. These travelers prefer private dwellings to hotels. Typically we serve those traveling as a family or as a group of friends who want spacious accommodations and full kitchens. Many vacation renters report that they won’t travel any other way when arranging leisure travel accommodations. The vacation rental guest is not the business traveler who is usually best served by hotel accommodations.


We are not competition to hotels. During peak events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Monterey Jazz Festival, Mazda Raceway Motocross, AT&T Golf Tournament, Big Sur Marathon, and Carmel Bach Festival the County badly needs vacation rentals, as hotels frequently lack capacity to support all the visitors who want to attend these events.

Short-Term Rental Market Overview

On July 8, 2017 the Monterey Herald printed an excellent overview of the short-term rental market in the Monterey area. Jim Johnson of the Herald interviewed two MCVRA directors, Jan Leasure and Dick Matthews, to gather information for the article. Unlike much we read, this one is not biased on the subject. Take the time to read it by clicking here

The Monterey Herald ran an editorial on July 16, 2016 by Charles (Chip) Bates, an MCVRA director.  It was written shortly before the July 13, 2016 Monterey County Planning Commission Workshop on STRs.  Some of the Commissioners believe STRs impact affordable housing.  Chip spoke up and setting the record straight about who we are, what we offer, and how we contribute.  We bring benefits to the local economy, our neighborhoods, our county government and the visitor serving community.

Here is the Herald article that was posted on 7/16/16:

Charles Bates: A force for good: Short-term rentals help locals share our coast

By Charles Bates, Guest commentary

     As a Monterey County homeowner, I am fortunate to live in what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the country. I wake up every morning near breathtaking coast, lined by expanses of white sand and tall cliffs that give way to bright blue water. It’s no wonder that so many visitors want to experience this stunning area for themselves.

     Renting a home on short-term rental (STR) sites like HomeAway and VRBO allows locals to share our coast with visitors. Sharing homes as an STR has enabled many locals to meet countless individuals from a diverse array of backgrounds and introduce them to our favorite place on earth.

     Many property owners in Monterey County have benefited from sharing their homes on the STR market. A recent survey found that nearly a third of Monterey County residents have rented out their homes on a short-term basis or know someone who has. Recent press coverage of the STR ecosystem details several residents’ experiences renting their homes. For one homeowner, renting her property helped her pay her mortgage and medical expenses while she battled cancer.

     For travelers, STRs expand their choice of lodging options in Monterey County. This is important for those vacationing with families, on a budget, or for an extended period of time. Vacation rentals also allow travelers the opportunity to stay in areas beyond the traditional hotel districts. Providing accommodations based upon free market principles helps make Monterey County a more accessible and enjoyable destination for all who wish to experience it. According to one study, visitors rented roughly 350,000 room-nights in Monterey County short-term rentals in 2013, and some travelers would not have chosen to visit Monterey County if they had not been able to stay in a vacation rental.

     But short-term rentals don’t just benefit property owners and travelers — they benefit Monterey County’s entire economy. A recent survey found that 55 percent of local residents believe the vacation rental market is important to the county economy — and they’re right. Research shows that rentals generated $131.8 million in total economic activity in Monterey County, supporting over 1,400 jobs in 2013.

     Some opponents wrongly claim that they hurt our county by converting would-be affordable long-term rental properties into vacation rentals. But the reality is most STRs are either primary or secondary homes that owners keep for personal use. Most STR owners would not offer their properties for long-term rental if they could no longer rent them out as STRs. And, even if current rental owners were willing to rent their properties on the long-term rental market, it is unlikely that the coastal short-term rentals would become affordable housing.

     Short-term rentals are a win-win-win for property owners, travelers and Monterey County residents as a whole, a point underscored by the voices of support they receive. The California Coastal Commission recently wrote a letter recognizing the value STRs bring to our coastal communities, and urging county officials to work with owners to enact an ordinance that would permit and regulate STRs.

     On July 13, the Monterey County Resource Management Agency will discuss its intentions to develop an ordinance to permit and regulate short-term rentals. This is a great step toward ensuring that STRs will continue to benefit property owners, visitors and our local economy while also protecting neighborhoods with enforceable rules and restrictions. Local short-term rental owners and managers place a high priority on drafting fair regulations that protect neighborhood values. However, it is important that the Monterey County Resource Management Agency develops equitable and common-sense rules that balance the need to regulate and tax STRs with the rights of property owners and the need to preserve the many positive impacts short-term rentals have on our county.

Short-Term Rentals Do NOT Impact Affordable Housing

Short-term rental (STR) opponents claim that STRs impact affordable housing. A survey was taken in September 2016 to determine if this is factual. STR owners were surveyed throughout incorporated cities and unincorporated areas of Monterey County. Here are the facts.

The survey found that 75.8% of all STRs are either the owner’s primary residence or a second home used by the owner, his family, and friends at times. 

STR opponents claim that banning STRs would result in more long-term housing. When asked what owners would do if STRs were completely banned, only 5.9% would offer their home as a long-term rental. The most stated reason that they would not rent long-term was the owners want continued use of the home for personal, family, and friends.

Then the question was asked, if the owner had no other option but to rent the home long-term, what would be the monthly rent? Only 9.1% would charge less than $2,000 per month. Combining these responses indicates only 9.1% of the 5.9% of STRs that would be offered as long term rentals might be considered affordable. This is just 0.54% of all STRs!

STRs will never become affordable housing. To appeal to visitors; STRs must be attractive residences in desirable neighborhoods. These properties are not "affordable." Click here for full survey report.

A separate, independent analysis was done by Mark Brodeur,  Pacific Grove’s community and economic development director who reviewed the city's housing stock and came to the same conclusion. Mr. Brodeur states in his analysis, "I can't see how such a small percentage (3.2% are STRs) of all units in the City degrades the long term rental market. I think there are much larger forces in play that affect the housing stock and availability of long term rentals. Certainly "second homes" play a much larger impact than STR's." See Mr. Brodeur's memorandum.

Let’s analyze the unincorporated areas of Monterey County. The 2000 U.S. census determined that there were 37,579 dwelling units in the County. MCVRA estimates there are 500-700 short-term rentals in the County. Using the high end of the estimate, STRs represent just 1.9% of all County housing stock. So how can such a small percentage of all units in the County degrade the long term rental market? Furthermore, how many of the 1.9% would actually be “affordable?” As discussed above, only 9.1% would charge less than $2,000 per month. Combining these percentages shows that short-term rentals might add just 0.17% more affordable housing if converted to long-term rentals. The problem is local property values, not short-term rentals. Short-term rentals impacting affordable long term housing is a myth!

Further supporting the position that STRs do not impact affordable housing is a study done by ECONorthwest in the city of Portland, OR. Even if all Portland STRs were to be available for long-term rental, many of them would not rent at rates that are affordable. Long-term rental market rates are simply unaffordable to many households. See Housing Affordability Impacts of Airbnb in Portland

Conclusion: STRs have NO impact on affordable housing. 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals Provide Affordable Coastal Visitor Lodging 

 On May 7, 2017 the San Jose Mercury News published an article titled “Are beach vacations for middle-class Californians getting impossible to afford?” It references a new survey from the California Coastal Conservancy. The poll found that while 67 percent of California residents with household incomes over $200,000 a year stay overnight when they visit the coast, only 41 percent of those with household incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 do. And just 25 percent of people with incomes under $25,000 stay overnight. For the article, click here.

Coastal lodging availability and cost have been impacted by the California Coast Act which created opposing goals: reigned in development, yet affordable coastal lodging for the visiting public. This has led to insufficient lodging as demand increased. The Carmel Pine Cone published an editorial on May 12, titled “First create a problem, and then pretend to try to solve it.” Click here for the editorial and scroll down to page 24A.

Short-term vacation rentals are a solution.

Simply allow owners to offer their existing homes to coastal visitors. No development required! MCVRA director Chuck Stein’s letter to the Monterey Herald published on May 25, 2017 is right on the mark. See Chuck's letter. The California Coastal Commission charged with implementing the Coastal Act strongly agrees that short-term rentals must be permitted along the coastal zone. See the separate description on this website titled “California Coastal Commission Strongly Supports Short-Term Rentals.”


Vacation rentals are part of what’s now called the “sharing economy”. We share our homes and local hospitality with our visitors. This is not a new concept. Vacation rentals have been a part of Monterey County’s visitor serving menu since the early 1900's. Some of our members have guest books that go back to the 1920's. We have shared our homes with people of all walks of life and from all over the world. 

We not only share our homes but we act as a concierge, referring our guests to restaurants, wineries and local attractions. Vacation rentals also enable visitors to access the California coast, a prime objective of the California Coastal Commission.


This tradition of sharing our homes simply must be preserved. There are currently about 1,500 vacation rentals throughout Monterey County. Our customers want to wake up in a quiet neighborhood, perhaps to the sound of the surf or of a rooster on a farm. Forbes magazine says that the sharing economy is unstoppable but unfair regulation could send vacation rentals underground. We work with local governments to insure vacation rentals are permitted but with enforceable requirements.


To demonstrate that vacation rentals serve visitors wanting an experience different from that of a hotel, MCVRA created an online petition for our former guests. A total of 2,048 former guests  signed the petition with many also adding a comment pleading or even demanding vacation rental availability. To view this petition, click on Petition.

For more information on vacation rentals and how they benefit our local community, see our white paper by clicking on: White Paper