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Plastic Food Containers And Short Term Rentals Hot Topics At Last City Council Meeting

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2019 10:09 am

As part of the Marine Protection ordinance that was introduced in 2017 by the council to ban polystyrene or other non-recyclable plastic food containers in the city, an amendment was introduced to expand products that are harmful to the environment at the last city council meeting May 1. The update to the ordinance includes the following prohibitions: food containers made from materials that are non biodegradable; compostable or recyclable plastic; beverage straws, stirrers and cutlery; and single use plastic bags at city sponsored events and city managed concessions. In addition this ordinance sets a goal for residents to limit the use of single use beverage bottles, miniature beverage bottles, non-biodegradable cigarette filters and balloons as well as unnecessary plastic product packaging. The enforcement of this ordinance will start in six months.

During the public comment period 12 residents spoke in favor and one person was against it. A motion was carried unanimously.

Short Term Rentals (STR) were once again discussed during the meeting. Assistant City Manager Steve Dush introduced the item and summarized what was discussed at the last meeting in terms of no expansion of STRs and enforcement. Dush pointed out that as part of SANDAG’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) the city will be updating its Housing Element due in 2021 to identify housing needs in the community and how STRs can exacerbate the housing shortage and drive up prices. He stressed the need to align the city code requirements, the residents needs, and type of city enforcements to deploy. During the last meeting a number of Bayside Landing homeowners spoke to the council about the problems STRs have created in their community. Based on what was discussed Dush suggested one of the elements preceding application to the city to operate an STR is to get a letter of authorization from the Homeowners Association.

During the public comment period Mayor Serge Dedina announced that the city had received 10 letters on the issue of STRs. During the public comment, four speakers were in support, and three against and one person not totally against. Some of the comments from Bayside Landing residents included one person in favor who said “STRs give families more access to the beach community, an opportunity for people to start on their first home and rent the place while they are on vacation.”

Another resident who had read online reviews from people who stayed at Bayside Landing and rented a STR said she read that three families with a total of 10 people stayed in one unit. Problems with overcrowding at the pool, excessive trash and parking issues were also brought up by residents including no on site management.

A representative of Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath spoke about AB 731, a proposed bill which limits the rentals to a maximum of 30 days a year. Part of the bill reads, “The bill would define ‘eligible area’ to mean an area that is located within the coastal zone of the County of San Diego, in an urbanized area, and zoned for residential use, as provided. The bill would prohibit a hosting platform from making residential property located within the coastal zone in the County of San Diego as a short-term rental unless authorized by the rental property owner. The bill would also require the hosting platform facilitator of the short-term rental to be responsible for collecting and remitting applicable transient occupancy taxes, as specified. The bill would repeal these provisions as of Jan. 1, 2025.” The representative asked for the support of the city for this bill.

“I don’t want IB to be a PB or Mission Beach… It sounds like they need a night manager, that’s for them to look at. When the project came up I was reluctant and voted no. I was afraid what it would like in 10 years, now [I’m worried] what’s going to look like in 3 years,” said Councilman Robert Patton. “Personally it’s important for our staff to look at solutions and come back to us.”

Councilman Mark West commented that the state is dealing with a housing and affordability crisis and STRs are taking over affordable housing. The fact that Bayside Landing is located in a MU-1 zone ( general commercial and mixed use) was also brought up during the discussion.

City Manager Andy Hall explained, “The reason why that project was allowed in that zone at least for a temporary period of time, there was a change in the zoning ordinance that allowed projects west of 7th to be built without commercial on the bottom floor. Even though it is purely residential, it is in a commercial zone, that’s why STRs are allowed.”

West asked Dush if the city wanted to do some enforcement if there is a city employee that could do that job. Dush answered that it would fall under code enforcement.

The issue of the Coastal Commission being in favor of low cost accommodations was brought up. “I’m extremely concerned we’ll end up like Mission Beach. If the Coastal Commission requires low cost accommodations, what is precluding these projects from becoming 100 percent STRs?” asked Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre.

Councilman Ed Spriggs recommended looking at occupancy codes to limit overcrowding, and cost recovery from the city. He proposed not to ban STRs but control and establish rules and regulations to deal with noise and occupancy. He also recommended to the residents of Bayside Landing to deal with the problem themselves.

Dush said that code compliance regulation citations range at $100 per violation. “We have a unique problem at Bayside Landing with 187 in 10 acres. It’s a dense development. There shouldn’t be a prohibition on STRs but limitations by the HOA,” he said.

Dedina said that the Bayside Landing project created more habitat and access to the bay and the environmental mitigation was so great that the council approved the project. He recommended staff to come back with a report to council after the summer to see what happened over that period of time. “Let’s work this out,” he said.

In other business:

• The first reading for an ordinance revising the code regarding screens, canopies and camping at the beach, pier, pier plaza, and park areas was approved unanimously. Lifeguard Capt. Robert Stabenow presented the item and explained that last year he spoke to the council regarding making some changes to the ordinance and now he came back with his findings. There are three reasons why he felt the code needed revising on the issue: law enforcement and lifeguards cannot monitor the activities going on inside the tents and canopies; those structures block the view of lifeguards while they are keeping an eye on the ocean and the beach and they block the public right of way and safe passage for pedestrians and disabled individuals. Spriggs wanted to make sure the language of the ordinance was clear. He felt the word overnight could be misinterpreted versus using the words 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. City Attorney Jennifer Lyon and Hall were able to make some changes and the item was brought up at the end of the meeting for approval which passed unanimously.

• Based on the Senate Bill 946 signed by Governor Gerry Brown, which decriminalized sidewalk vending and limiting local authorities from regulating this type of business, an item was introduced. Currently the city prohibits sidewalk vending but to comply with state law, the city addressed this issue with an ordinance that will allow sidewalk vending under certain conditions which include: no interference with emergency personnel and flow of pedestrians or vehicular traffic; it complies with ADA; provides access to fire hydrants restrooms, trash receptacles and more. This first reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously.

• A resolution supporting AB 1080 and SB54 which would establish the California Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act was approved unanimously. The act would require the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to adopt regulations to reduce and recycle 75 percent of single use packaging and products sold or distributed in the state and 100 percent recyclable and compostable on or after 2030. The approval of the resolution allows the mayor to send letter of support on behalf of the city.

• The 2017-2019 salary schedule, appointive management and confidential salary and benefit plan as well as position description and salary for office specialist and fire marshal/building official were presented. Some of the other changes included city council compensation of $641 a month and minimum wage raise from $12.07 to $15.41. This item was approved unanimously.

• An update on roadway infrastructure improvement projects were presented by Public Works Director Eric Minicilli. As part of the Capital Improvement Projects the following improvements were listed. IB Boulevard improvement project - 69 ADA ramps, and 3 new crosswalks, 7,200 square feet of boardwalk/sidewalk. Also .8 mile of bikeway paving and rehabilitation. One hundred and forty one new lights have been installed of the 241 requested. Minicilli said of the last 100, 80 could be problematic because the city would have to buy light poles for an expense of $2,500 to $3,000 each.

• Photographer William Bay who grew up in Imperial Beach made a presentation about his upcoming project of creating a photo exhibit of 29 contaminants in the Tijuana River, Smuggler’s Gulch and other areas based on the Border Patrol water quality study.

The next city council meeting will be held May 15 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 825 Imperial Beach Boulevard.

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