Editorial: City council made mistake in prohibiting vacation rentals in residential areas
In 2016, the city council wisely created a Short-Term Rental Task Force to review the situation. Members of the task force included vacation rental owners, concerned neighbors of rentals, and interested residents.
The task force made sensible recommendations that the city planning commission and city council approved. These new rules included requiring owners of vacation rentals to obtain a city business license and pay the same TOT (transient occupancy tax), or bed tax, that hotels pay, which is 10-percent of nightly lodging.
This resulted in 323 vacation rentals signing up and paying their fair share of TOT, resulting in $491,017 of new revenues for the city government in the last fiscal year, and over $580,000 in the last 12 months of city reports from April 2018 to March 2019 (see city graph at bottom).
It also means that vacation rentals in Paso Robles add almost $6 million per year to the local economy. Not counting additional money tourists spend on restaurants, retail shopping, and wineries, when they visit.
After this first step, the task force and planning commission followed up with creating guidelines for vacation rentals.
The new guidelines included:
- Holders of existing business licenses must apply for a short-term rental permit
- Set maximum occupancy requirements
- Set on-site parking requirements
- Created “good neighbor” provisions and notifications
- Required a 30-minute complaint hotline process
- Separation requirements in the R-1 zone
- Maximum caps on the total number of short-term rentals in the City by zones
Last week, the Paso Robles City Council had the opportunity to approve these guidelines after three years of discussions and deliberations with the stakeholders.
Instead, the council opted for a dramatic overreach and banned vacation rentals in all Paso Robles residential neighborhoods, designated as R1. This ban affects most of the vacation rentals and most of the property owners in Paso Robles. The ban is effective immediately for new vacation rentals, and in 24 months for existing vacation rentals.
Vacation rentals are a benefit to our local economy in many ways. They create more competition and affordable lodging options for tourists; and allow property owners to rent out their spare bedrooms, condos, and houses for extra income.
We urge the city council to suspend its short term rental ordinance when it comes up for a final reading at its next meeting, which is expected June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
The city council should continue negotiations with concerned neighbors and property owners and reach a solution that is fair for all concerned.
It’s clear that some of the vacation rentals have been a nuisance, but that is no excuse for stripping away the property rights of all homeowners in residential neighborhoods.
Sensible regulations can be written that protect the peace and quiet of neighborhoods and preserve the property rights of homeowners who choose to rent their homes.