SLO County: Ordinance would limit vacation rentals in Oceano

The community of Oceano is taking steps to reduce the number of vacation rental properties and preserve more housing for residents.

The Oceano Advisory Council will introduce an ordinance that bans new vacation rentals in the inland area of ​​the town located north and east of Highway 1 and caps the number of coastal rentals at 100 in total.

Chair Charles Varni, who authored the ordinance, said it is targeted at full-time vacation rentals, which he said take up space that could otherwise be used by residents as long-term rentals.

“For us, it’s very important and probably primarily about preserving available housing stock for long-term rentals and permanent residents,” he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, existing vacation rentals will be grandfathered in, allowing them to remain open, but will lose their permits when they are sold.

Currently, there are 18 active vacation rentals in inland Oceano and around 85 active rentals in the coastal zone, Varni said.

Oceano Vacation Rentals.jpg
Vacation rentals in the inland part of Oceano north and east of Highway 1, highlighted here in red, will be banned by a new ordinance introduced by the Oceano Advisory Council. The ordinance caps the number of coastal vacation rental permits at 100, highlighted here in yellow.

Varni also said that Oceano is the last coastal community in the county without a vacation rental ordinance, despite its tourism-heavy location.

The ordinance does not cover short-term rentals like Airbnb partial or full-home stays, instead targeting dwellings that operate full-time as vacation rentals. Varni said short-term rentals are far better for the community, as they can generate tourist traffic occasionally while being used as permanent dwellings for Oceano’s resident population.

“I think that this vacation rental ordinance doesn’t do very much at all to squash tourism, but it will put a limitation on that type of venue because of the other problems that come with it,” Varni said.

He said according to county figures, around 20% of Oceano’s housing stock is comprised of vacation or short-term rentals, a number that will only increase as the town becomes more tourism and vacation friendly.

Varni said that although “a majority percentage of people who live here don’t work here,” more people could be working in Oceano in the future, which makes it important to keep housing stock available for future Oceano residents.

“The economic pressures on Oceano are growing daily in terms of its attractiveness,” he said. “It’s been discovered — it’s still one of the more affordable coastal, you know, coastal areas to get a property, and if and when Oceano eventually becomes a vehicle-free beach community, there’s going to be even greater pressures because the property values ​​are going up.”

The Advisory Council will hold public comment sessions on the ordinance on Aug. 20 at 10 am in person in the Oceano Community Services District meeting room and Aug. 22 at 6:30 pm on Zoom.

After the public comment sessions, the ordinance may receive revisions, which the council will hear at its September meetings, set for the second and third Thursdays of the month at 6:30 pm

This story was originally published August 5, 2022 10:00 AM.

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John Lynch is a housing reporter at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, John studied journalism and telecommunications at Ball State University, graduating in 2022.

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