City Council Balks at Allowing Short-Term Rentals

The discourse over short-term rentals in La Cañada Flintridge will continue for the foreseeable future after the City Council made no decision on the issue during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Council members — except for Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Curtis, who recused himself from the discussion — mulled a proposed ordinance, given preliminary approval by the Planning Commission earlier this month, that would permit and regulate short-term rentals.
Though the four appreciated staff members’ work on the proposal that affects the city zoning code and includes 14 operational requirements, they agreed it was best to shelve the issue for the time being, making short-term rentals still impermissible in LCF.
“What I worry about, which is probably somewhat consistent with what everybody else is sharing, I just kind of feel like we’re trying to create something that doesn’t fit our community,” said Mayor Mike Davitt. “I also look at [LCF] like we are a bedroom type of community. That’s the reality of the situation. We’re not Manhattan Beach; we’re not Hermosa Beach or Lake Arrowhead. Those are different environments.”
The council had elected not to ban short-term rentals — those lasting fewer than 30 consecutive days — in February and urged the commission to work on an ordinance that would regulate them.
One of the biggest concerns from the council and stakeholders who wrote letters opposing the proposed ordinance is the possibility of out-of-town visitors negatively impacting residential neighborhoods by bringing additional noise, trash and traffic, especially if they hosted parties.
Councilman Rick Gunter — who strongly opposed the proposal — worried that it would be difficult for LCF to enforce the regulations because the city is complaint-driven. In effect, should there be a problem during the evening, a city official with a typical 8 a.m.-5 p.m. work schedule would not investigate the matter until the following business day.
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Todd Deeds said deputies respond to complaint calls in an effort to enforce municipal codes and later coordinate their efforts with the appropriate city official when it comes to noise ordinances.
“It’s extraordinarily complex to administer, and we’re just not set up for that,” said Gunter, who recommended that staff members remind residents that short-term rentals are not permitted in LCF.
Any resident who violates the zoning code and rents out their property for fewer than 30 days is issued an administrative citation that amounts to $100. A second citation is $200, and the penalty goes up $500 for each violation within 12 months thereafter, according to City Manager Mark Alexander.
Though admittedly open to allowing short-term rentals, Councilwoman Terry Walker felt it wasn’t the right time to make such a decision and recommended that staff members reach out to the community about it and research short-term rentals further.
“I have some concerns about voting on it at this time when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I think we don’t want to be inviting large groups of people into our community for health reasons,” she said. “It is not the right time to be making these decisions. We need to have a lot more education on this before taking a stance.”
Another reason to be apprehensive, Gunter said, involves “turning what we in our town intend to be a residence into a business.”
“What concerns me is that when we have short-term rentals we are intentionally organizing a system around someone who is not invested in the neighborhood, who does not have the same interest in keeping the place quiet, neat and cared for.”

STATS SHOW CRIME
DECLINE IN SEPTEMBER

In his monthly presentation to the council, Deeds said only 10 Part I offenses — which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, grand theft auto and arson — were reported in September.
The captain had previously reported 21 such crimes in August and 37 in July and said he was “pretty happy” about the decline.
There were five reports of theft, four residential burglaries and one grand theft auto in September.
Deeds told the council that deputies were able to arrest a suspect for one of the residential burglaries with a “big assist” from the Flock Safety cameras recently installed at intersections throughout the city. He said a construction worker in the area was arrested and found to have stolen property connected to crimes in the South Bay.
One of the council members asked about recent reports of presidential and La Cañada Unified School District board candidate signs being stolen from residential properties, and Deeds replied that two detectives are currently working on those cases.
“It’s a petty theft as far as stealing something on private property that’s not theirs,” he said.

ONLINE GIFT CARD PROGRAM KICKS OFF MONDAY

LCF senior management analyst Lisa Brancheau reported that the city is ready to launch an online gift card program on Monday, Oct. 26, a move aimed at boosting a local economy greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In collaboration with Yiftee, LCF is selling online gift cards — at a discounted rate — that could be used at local participating businesses.
Those who buy a $40 gift card will be given a bonus of $15 for a total of $55. There is no restriction to the number of gift cards that can be purchased, but customers will be limited to nine gift cards with the $15 bonus.
For more information, visit the city website or yiftee.com.

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