City Council votes to further study impact of short-term vacation rentals
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 11/01/16 - 06:03 PM | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Council President Sherri Lightner
City Council President Sherri Lightner
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A motion by City Council President Sherri Lightner, which some feel would have largely banned short-term vacation rentals in single-family neighborhoods, was defeated by a 7-2 vote on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

An alternative motion brought by Councilmember Todd Gloria was then passed by the same 7-2 margin. Lightner of Council District 1 and Lorie Zapf of Council District 2 cast the dissenting votes on both motions.

Gloria's countermotion requested city staff do a fiscal analysis to determine the cost of greater short-term vacation rentals (STVR) enforcement citywide, asked staff to draft and return with a comprehensive ordinance better defining and regulating STVRs, as well as remanding the matter back to the Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee for further consideration.

Under Lightner’s proposal, a home would not have been able to be rented to transients for less than 30 days in most single-family zones. Additionally, renters or owners of single-family homes could not have rented out a room or space for less than seven days without proper permitting.

Following both votes, Lightner lamented that the objective of the discussion, which exceeded five hours of public testimony at Golden Hall, was to describe and define STVRs, which she pointed out are “not currently listed in the city's Municipal Code.”

“The objective today was to start down the path of getting some enforcement on this,” Lightner said, adding that STVRs apparently “are not considered visitor accommodations by code enforcement.

“I couldn't support the motion without clarification that STVRs are visitor accommodations and that we (city) should be able to enforce them,” Lightner said before apologizing to what was left of the large crowd gathered at Golden Hall.

Early on, outgoing city attorney Jan Goldsmith pointed out the STVR issue was extremely complex and difficult to deal with.

“The law is hopelessly vague and doesn't address short-term or owner-occupied rentals,” Goldsmith said. “Nor does it delve into the legal basis for having them.”

Noting “a little bit of policy direction would help,” Goldsmith offered several options for the City Council to consider moving forward that included leaving STVRs as they are, having the City Council give some direction as to how they might be better enforced or banning them all together in residential neighborhoods and asking his office to prosecute all problematic cases.

After the vote, Zapf noted the wide disparity of viewpoints on the Council adding “owner-occupied and home sharing will likely be the fastest and easiest aspect to reach consensus on.”

Councilmember Scott Sherman, noting STVRs “are nothing new and have been around for a long time” in one form or another, then commented, “I can't support a de facto or blanket policy restricting the property rights of others.”

Councilman Mark Kersey pointed out that he and his colleagues recently supported home-based businesses, adding that an outright banning of STVRs would send a wrong and conflicting message about permitting homes to be used by residents to help support themselves economically.
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