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Debra Ryll: Ban on short-term rentals in PG would be a disaster

As a property manager, I understand how far reaching the revenues from short-term rentals extend. It’s estimated that for every $1 spent on a rental, $2 are spent in local businesses (and these renters stay longer than hotel guests). STRs (short-term rentals) fund a whole constellation of jobs for housecleaners, contractors, plumbers, electricians and many more.

STR visitors populate local restaurants and shops, contributing to the current vibrancy/economic health of Pacific Grove. And perhaps most significantly, the transient occupancy tax (TOT) funds a significant part of the city budget, so it is fiscally irresponsible for anyone to suggest that the program be terminated without simultaneously offering a solution for the loss of revenue.

How would the city cope with this shortfall? TOT is the county’s top revenue source behind property tax, thus helping to pave our roads and provide fire, police and medical services. Which city services would be cut to offset this huge loss? And how would the city enforce this ban — where would the staff come from, and how would they be paid?

Vacation rentals aren’t going away — they are one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. Airbnb now has 2 million listings worldwide and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) — with nearly 1 billion website visits last year — has recently been purchased by Expedia. Vacation rentals complement traditional lodging choices, they don’t detract from them (occupancy rates in all lodging types are at record levels). The clientele who wants to stay in a house instead of a hotel won’t just rent a hotel room if they can’t find a vacation rental — they’ll go somewhere else.

Pacific Grove is a vacation destination, in part due to its proximity to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, whose popularity continues to grow. I realize that some residents would like to keep Pacific Grove all to themselves, frozen in time, but that is neither possible nor financially feasible. Let’s work together to refine regulations and address concerns and complaints. Let’s shut down STRs that truly do cause problems. But please, do not impose a total ban on STRs, which would be disastrous on so many levels.

By Debra Ryll Courtesy Monterey Herald

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