City Vetoes Bid for Old Town Vacation Rental

Property owner Robert Beck says he doesn't rent to people who party. A neighboring couple says it hears parties often.

The controversial vacation rental property issue returned to Seal Beach on Monday night.

In a 4-1 vote, the City Council upheld a Planning Commission decision denying a property owner a permit that would have allowed him to rent his duplex for less than 30 days at a time. It’s the latest in a crackdown on vacation rentals in Old Town sparked by neighbor complaints about garbage, noise and carousing. However, many property owners say restricting vacation rentals infringes on their rights and the rentals don’t cause as many problems as critics allege.

The council’s decision effectively forbids Robert Beck, who co-owns a 17th Street property with his wife, from using the land as vacation rental space.

According to Beck, the city originally granted him a business permit allowing vacation rentals on the 2,500-square-foot property. However, according to city code, all vacation rental permits must go through the commission's approval process.

On Nov. 7, the commission denied Beck's request for a permit.

The appeal is one of a number of recent filings by property owners seeking the OK to use their properties as vacation rentals in Seal Beach. , effectively forbidding all vacation rentals in the city.

As he asked the council to overturn the commission's decision, Beck said his property was quiet, well-maintained and not rented to people who party.

“I think that the record will reflect that there was no evidence, substantial evidence to support the findings of the Planning Commission,” Beck said.

He also said that he’d heard commissioners present multiple conflicting arguments for their decision.

“It seems to me that they’re using different standards depending on what unit’s up for a vote,” Beck said.

He also took issue with the comments made by residents at the Planning Commission hearing and said that out of a dozen people who spoke, most criticized vacation rental properties in general but not his property in particular.

At the Monday meeting, neighbor Ed Hellwig, who lives nearby, said he wanted the council to end the constant noise that allegedly comes from Beck’s property and disturbs Hellwig, his wife and daughter.

“We hear all the people come in and out every few days, having friends over, having parties,” said Ed Hellwig. “He says he doesn’t rent to people who have loud parties. Well, we’ve heard them.”

“We wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a problem,” Hellwig added.

Mayor Pro Tem Ellery Deaton said she supported the Planning Commission decision and she could not dismiss the complaints of Beck’s neighbors at the Monday meeting or at previous meetings.

“It is my personal feeling that when you have residents that came out and say 'This bothers me," that is the evidence,” Deaton said.  “People coming in, people going out, and I personally don’t find that conducive to raising a child next door."

Councilman Michael Levitt cast the sole dissenting vote.

chris roy February 12, 2013 at 02:23 PM
You can hear my family coming and going from our home. We also have people over and host parties and make noise. We have been at this address here in SB for 29 years. It's called living.
Shelly G February 14, 2013 at 01:39 AM
OMG, I hear tenants coming and going at all hours, every day and every night. This is absurd! There are more apartment buildings around that have tenants coming and going that cause as much if not more disturbances than weekly rentals. What's next, ban all apartments, ban all rentals because of a few complaints. This is a beach community and now the city is trying to have absolute power. You cannot live without disturbances here, don't try. But putting a ban on vacation rentals is ridiculous. How about dog control? I have people walking their dogs daily that are destroying our landscaping. What about barking dogs? What about dogs peeing all over Main Street? How unsanitary. Ban dogs! Stop the control because of a few complainers! Oh and having people come in and out is not conducive to raising a child. What planet do you live on Ms Deaton! Those people chose to live there. Is it not conducive to have my child live in an apartment because people move in and out. Unbelievable!
K. M. April 11, 2013 at 06:51 PM
My husband and I planned to visit Seal Beach this fall ,and rent a cottage for two weeks. We will now change our destination. This ruling will cost the community financially, with the loss of lodging and dining tax revenue, The revenue shortage will need to be recuperated (likely in the form of increased taxes and fees on residents). It will also negatively impact retail shops located on Main Street, etc. The ban on vacation rentals could prompt a wave real estate listings for property-owners who may need to sell their income-producing properties. This could cause a reduction in property value (if a large influx of residential properties are listed at one time). Seal Beach is a beach town ... for vacations and residents alike. This ruling is very shortsighted, in our opinion. We'll now take our vacation dollars to other OC Beach communities who welcome our business. We hope Seal Beach reconsiders this ban on short term vacation rentals. We love the quaintness of the town, but with this ban, we now feel rather unwelcome. What a shame, since we always found Seal Beach to be such a friendly and lovely place to visit


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