Opinion: I currently don’t live in Pacific Grove, I haven’t read the complete ballot measure, and I am not going to weigh in on how to vote. But I will provide my personal view of short-term rentals in the city.
I grew up in Pacific Grove. Marched in the butterfly parade, participated in Boy Scouts, represented the City on the baseball all-star team and went to one of the four elementary schools (now there are two). But if you ask anyone my age, they will share a similar perspective. The community changed as did the demographics. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, PG became as a barren community downtown. Limited shops. Few restaurants. High turnover of businesses. It wasn’t very appealing to visit.
Now I see a community that is thriving. While I don’t think it’s all because of short-term rentals, I certainly think that having this type of guest experience is contributing to the economic success of businesses. I have a perspective that is pretty broad.
As a lecturing professor in the College of Business at CSUMB working with students and more than 60+ regional small businesses and organizations over the years, I know that the margin for “keeping the lights on” is very slim for these owners. I do worry that small shifts in visitors can have a huge impact on businesses trying to survive.
As a real estate professional, I’ve had clients purchase homes that they have used for short-term rentals. Clients buy and create long-term rentals. And clients that thought they’d only use if for themselves that then decided to turn into a long-term rental as they haven’t been able to use the property at this stage in their life.
Here’s my perspective:
- Many people are seeking a part-time home as a place for the to getaway. We’ve always been an “escape” and “vacation” community since the original Old Del Monte Hotel and PG Retreat. People today come and visit to have the experience of the Monterey Peninsula as much as they can. Sometimes they can’t utilize their home and they are giving others the opportunity to visit. This can help offset costs, pay county real estate taxes, and help improve the property. As a result, the surrounding neighborhood is of higher value.
- The market and demand does some self-selecting. A home that is in a desirable “walk to town” or “walk to beach” is going to be more highly sought-after as a short-term rental. This is closer to the commercial district.
- I don’t believe that short-term rentals are taking away from long-term rental inventory.People who want to short-term rent their house also want to experience it part-time for themselves.
- People want different experiences. Many travelling families want to cook some meals in. Younger families want to sleep in one room. I don’t believe that Inn Keepers and Bed & Breakfasts are for everyone. Again, I had clients stay for four nights in a Bed & Breakfast last weekend. That was the experience they wanted. Some hotel operators have evolved to the consumers changing needs or provide a different experience.
Last, I personally live in a neighborhood with four houses that have part time residents surrounding me. Sure, there have been a few nights over the past year when people had a dinner party and were out on the patio. But still this morning I walked outside and heard the ocean crashing. That’s what we all want to hear. Let’s share it with others and welcome people to visit our community versus spread a message of hostility.
The City of Pacific Grove and its staff have worked through a dynamic and changing time. They have provided tremendous amount thought into the process, have been courteous and created a platform in an effort to hear the concerns of residents and to be fair to homeowners. And by the way, many communities all over the country have been looking at Pacific Grove and how they have approached the growing demand for short-term rentals. I think a moment of gratitude and respect is owed to them.