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.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT OUR RUSSIAN RIVER ECONOMY:
-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.
FULL LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
-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: