2015 Market in Review and Vacation Rentals


Dear Friends,

I am pleased to post the Sonoma County Market in review. Our market is already on the march for 2016. The Board of Supervisors is considering significant revisions to the vacation rental ordinance. I am attaching information provided by Russian River Vacation Homes on the issues. As ever, feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions. I look forward to being in touch and to working with you in this coming year.







The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, January 26th at 3:00 p.m. in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers, located at 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa. This public hearing invites all attendees to comment on the recommended changes to the vacation rental ordinance made by the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors.
A full list of the recommendations from the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors is included at the bottom of this email. Most recommendations are slight tweaks to the current ordinance. However, there are a few recommendations that would have a broader negative impact on the vacation rental industry. They are:
1.      Prohibit new vacation rentals in the R1 zone unless they are also within the Visitor Residential (VR) Combining Sone. The R1 Zone includes most of Guerneville and it is important to note that this VR Combining Zone does not yet exist; it is a separate item in this round of recommendations.
2.       2 Year Term for Permits. This would require that vacation rental permits are renewed every two years. Under the current ordinance, the permit is a one-time process and only expires upon sale of the property. Renewal every two years would mean additional permit costs. Currently, the permit costs $645, a huge increase from when the ordinance was first adopted in 2011, and the County has the ability to raise the cost at any time. Furthermore, we have not received any detail as to what the renewal process will entail.
3.      Require a Use Permit for Vacation Rentals with more than 4 bedrooms. Use permits are a big unknown; no vacation rental has successfully applied for a use permit. They are potentially too costly and too burdensome for most vacation rental owners. Currently, use permits are required for homes with 6 or more bedrooms.



-Attend the meeting.
-Write to PRMD and the Board of Supervisors, before the 26th of January.


The County needs to hear from individuals speaking out in support of vacation rentals. If you have already emailed the County or spoken at a hearing, thank you! It is great to do it again and remind them of your position. If you are a vacation rental owner or your job relies on tourism in the Russian River, your voice keeps Sonoma County officials tuned into the human aspect on the pro vacation rental side of the equation.
Some great points about vacation rentals:
-There is a strong vacation rental ordinance in place. Enforcement of the current ordinance to bring the few problem rentals into compliance makes more sense than implementing tighter regulations that burden vacation rentals in good standing.
-The vast majority of vacation homes are rented to off-set homeownership costs.
-Second homes that are rented as vacation rentals provide the funds needed to keep the property well-maintained. Well-maintained homes are an asset to our community.
-Personal vacation homes are not available on the long-term housing market. Renting vacation homes as vacation rentals brings more people, not less, to our community to shop, eat and support our local businesses.
-Vacation rental owners are members of the Sonoma County community. Many have vacationed here for generations, many plan to retire here. All have an interest and a desire to be good neighbors.
-Vacation rentals are good for our economy. They provide much-needed accommodations to visitors to our area, who in turn support local businesses.
-Vacation rentals create much-needed local jobs.



-Require a Use Permit for Vacation Rentals with more than 4 bedrooms.
-Prohibit new vacation rentals in the R1 zone, which includes most of Guerneville, unless they are also within the Visitor Residential (VR) Combining Zone.
-2 Year Term for Permits
-No outdoor activities during quiet hours (does this mean that if guests go from the house to their car at 10:30pm the neighbor can call in a complaint?)
-Reduced Quiet Hours  from 10pm to 9am to 10pm-7am
-Prohibit Events in all vacation rentals
-Regulate outdoor fires- size, location, cover required
-Limit on number of vehicles – no more than 1 per bedroom
-Allow hosted rentals in R1 (hosted means the owner lives on the property)
-Allow vacation rentals in C2 (community commercial) zoning
-Allow vacation rentals in LC (limited commercial) zoning
-Allow vacation rentals in K (recreational) zoning
-Allow hosted rentals in guest houses
-Adopt new VR Visitor Residential Combining Zone
-Require certified Property Mangers
-Certified PM to live within 30 miles
-Require reporting of complaints and responses to PRMD website
-Require ads and internet listings to include limits
-Property Report Checklist (I only have a vague idea of what this is; it would be a part of the application process)
-Impose larger penalty on violations
-Citation program utilized by the Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department
-3 strikes summary revocation of the permit.
Same list, on PRMD website:
I hope to see some of you at the meeting! “
Ellen DeProto
Russian River Vacation Homes
14080 Mill St. / P.O. Box 418
Guerneville, CA 95446
PH: 707-869-9030 ext 17
FAX: 707-869-1740



WHO: The County of Sonoma is proposing to update the Vacation Rental Ordinance, making changes as recommended by the Planning Commission. PRMD File No. ORD14-0011 
WHAT: A number of changes to the County’s Vacation Rental Ordinance are recommended to address issues related to neighborhood compatibility, overconcentration, code enforcement, and the loss of housing stock. Changes include a prohibition on the establishment of new Vacation Rentals in the R1 Low Density Residential Zone District unless a new VR Visitor Residential Combining Zone is in place. Other changes would allow hosted rentals in the R1 residential areas; establish new requirements for managers of vacation rentals, including owner-managers; and allow vacation rentals within existing residences located in commercial zones. A new X Vacation Rental Exclusion Zone District would be established, but would not be applied to any properties at this time. One parcel (APN 070-291-007) would have its existing Mixed Occupancy Combining Zone renamed to the VR Visitor Residential Combining Zone. The proposed changes, if adopted, would be effective in all areas of the unincorporated county except the Coastal Zone. Areas within cities would not be affected. Zoning District: Various. Supervisorial Districts: All.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to consider a recommendation from the Planning Commission on this project. All interested persons are invited to attend and provide comments.
The department has determined that the project is exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act under Section 15061(b)(3) of the CEQA Guidelines, because the proposed changes would not increase the potential for negative environmental impacts.
WHERE & WHEN: The Board of Supervisors public hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers at 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa. 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The staff report and other materials related to this project will be available at www.sonoma-county.org/VacationRentals beginning January 19, 2016. Background materials and links are also available at this website. The project materials will also be available for review at the File Counter located at the Permit and Resource Management Department, 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, on or after January 16, 2016.


To provide comments on the project and the proposed changes to the Vacation Rental Ordinance, please use the comment link available at the Vacation Rentals website,www.sonoma-county.org/VacationRentals

. You may also provide comments or ask questions by emailing PRMD-VacationRentals@sonoma-county.org. The Project Planner, Jane Riley, is available atjane.riley@sonoma-county.org or by phone at (707)565-7388. Written comments may also be submitted prior to or at the hearing; please bring 10 copies.
If you challenge the decision on the project in court you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the Permit and Resource Management Department at or prior to the public hearing.
PUBLISH ONCE: Press Democrat 1/8 page ad
DATE: January 14, 2016


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