City will fight lawsuit seeking leniency for vacation rentals in coastal zone

Owners of short-term lodging units in San Clemente have opined against the city’s laws that govern them since they were adopted in 2016. Now that the first 18-month grace period on those types of vacation dwellings has passed, entities are looking for clemency from the courts.

San Clemente Coastal Access Alliance and the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation filed a joint lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on Nov. 26 asking the court to allow for short-term lodging units (STLUs) within the coastal zone—any area within about 1,000 yards from the shoreline within San Clemente.

City staff is currently working with the California Coastal Commission to finalize its Coastal Implementation Plan following the February approval of the city’s Coastal Land Use Plan, all of which give more or broader local authority to municipalities in issuing coastal development permits and requirements.

Coastal Access Alliance hopes the court will restrict the city’s authority to approve STLUs within that zone due to what it claims are violations of the California Coastal Act.

The city’s laws were amended in 2016 due to outpouring public resistance to them. At the time, residents claimed STLUs were hampering their designated parking, creating a mess in neighborhoods—as they should be treated like businesses, they argued—and visitors were partying late into the night.

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