LAMAC Forms Committee to Address STR Issues

A significant portion of the Lake Arrowhead Municipal Advisory Council (LAMAC) meeting on March 7 focused on the proposed revisions to the Short Term Rental (STR) ordinance, which is being revised by the County of San Bernardino.

Lewis Murray, representative for County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, introduced the topic by stating that the county “ordinarily would not change the ordinance so soon after the last changes two years ago. But a lot of changes are taking place fast.”

Murray made available to attendees a 16-page document that reproduces 101 comments that members of the public have emailed to both Murray and Rutherford. A link to the document is available on Rutherford’s website at www.sbcounty.gov/Rutherford/.

“There are not one or two sides to each issue,” Murray said. “There are 10 sides — and they are interesting.”

Most of the 101 comments come from the Rim of the World area and not just from Lake Arrowhead. In addition, there are a lot of letters from Big Bear residents.

Rutherford’s most recent action on the issue has been to request from the Board of Supervisors funding for three full-time Code Enforcement officers who would work in the mountain communities on weekends, patrolling and enforcing codes with regard to STRs. Murray explained that the funds would come from the Transient Occupancy Tax, which goes into the General Fund and is spent according to decisions made by the supervisors.

Scott Rindenow, LAMAC chair, asked about a time table for a draft of the

revised ordinance. Murray replied that a final draft is expected sometime this summer.

“We are in the early stages. We still have time to incorporate people’s comments and input from the community. We are seeing critical areas [of the ordinance] that need adjustments,” Rindenow added. 

Rindenow said he suggests forming a small committee and recruited a few volunteers, including Council Member Michelle Ambrozic; Trish DuFour, owner of Pine Rose Cabins; Leland McElhaney, an attorney and long-time resident of Lake Arrowhead; and others.

The focus of the committee, as Rindenow recommended, will be to refine the major issues that have been identified regarding STRs.

As some of those issues were discussed during the MAC meeting, the group recognized the scope and vast extent of the problems. David Caine, a Lake Arrowhead resident, suggested a moratorium on permits for new STRs until after the ordinance is finalized. Otherwise, more permits could be issued using standards that might be changed by the revised ordinance. Murray said he will meet with Rutherford on March 11 to discuss the possibility of a moratorium. Later in the meeting, another attendee suggested that the moratorium should apply also to renewals of STR permits.

DuFour said 80 percent of houses being sold now are for STRS. “There are no long-term rentals,” DuFour said. “My employees cannot find places to live. It has become a free-for-all in the mountains.”

Further discussion covered the $1,700 fee required when people who object to an STR want to appeal a decision; occupancy standards; too many vehicles allowed when parking spaces are limited; enforcement of ordinance terms and conditions; trash, noise and other problems.

The MAC meeting, which usually runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., adjourned around 9:10 p.m. primarily due to the lively discussion about STRS.

Heidi Fron can be reached at hfron@mountain-news.com.