Letter: Neighborhoods are for neighbors, not vacation rentals
To the editor,
–This is the outcry of a small group of residents identifying themselves as “Save Paso Robles.” They’re asking Paso Roblans to help them protect their property rights. This small group of people are speaking loudly and asking the City of Paso Robles to abandon all zonings protecting residential property rights as they exist and draft new zoning to include Hotel, Motel, Transient lodging as defined by the California Building Code and City of Paso Robles.
The most recent vacation rental Task Force recommendations to the Paso Robles Planning Commission and City Council is to allow vacation rentals every 50ft., accommodating up to 18 people, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week in all residential neighborhoods throughout Paso Robles. You can do the math on your street. They claim the statistics have shown these only benefit our communities. This request stems from what they claim is their right to do whatever they want with their property. So, why just fight for your right to have transient lodging throughout our neighborhoods?
Several members from Save Paso Robles that I’ve spoken with have said “These are new times and residential zonings are old and outdated,” “Stop government from telling you what you can and can’t do with your property.” The irony of this is they’re asking government to intervene and regulate vacation rentals. If it’s a property rights issue, will you stand up and protect my right to put an adult bookstore, gas station, bar, or brothel next to your house? How about apartments or affordable housing to meet the needs of those who rental owners employ to care for their properties? My property, my rights! The real issue is residential zonings don’t allow hotels, motels, or transient lodging in residential neighborhoods. City officials have turned a blind eye to this behavior and even collect hotel tax from them (TOT). One of the arguments is the city survives on toursim including the $500,000 it currently collects from these small hotels. TOT is collected on each space rented, not each person occupying the space. My direct neighbor (one of eight on my street) rents his property for $250 per night on a regularly basis with an average of six people. If those same six people were to stay in hotels, the city would receive 3x the tax. How about the one behind my house that accommodates up to 10 people? Now multiply this by the 350 vacation rentals that currently exist. It’s not hard to do the math. Our city could be leaving over a $1,000,000 on the table so visitors have a more comfortable stay. We support vacation rentals and believe they have a place in our community, just not in our neighborhoods. There are zonings in place that allow for hundreds of these and currently have 175 in these locations. The approximately 175 vacation rentals that currently exist in residential neighborhoods today could possibly help fill the gap of housing rentals so badly needed for our residents. So who’s property rights need protecting here?