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Letter: A simpler suggestion than the short-term rental ordinance 

To the Editor,

I’m writing in regards to the readings, discussions, and comments that took place at the Paso Robles Planning Commission meeting of Oct. 10, 2017, specific to the proposal of ZC 15-006 – the Short Term Rental Ordinance.

Although it was evident that the Short-Term Rental Task Force spent many, many hours of volunteer time attempting to build a good code proposal, I believe the result is not. I was astounded that this proposal came to your board in what is obviously a very incomplete and confusing form, with many components left so unclear that they seemed subject to interpretation, when not totally absent of what is hoping to be achieved by the city. It does make one wonder if the answer may be again: more revenue from a fee/tax? Also I’m concerned at the haste with which the City Manager presented the timeline for this moving through and on the City Council. Why such pressure at this point with so much work left on this unfinished draft?

I was heartened to hear the request made by board members for documentation showing the history of complaints made towards the vacation rental guests, owners, and industry here in Paso Robles. I understand that information will be shared at tonight’s meeting to be considered. It was disappointing that the complaints weren’t already a part of the prepared documents, since they were used as justification for creating new code.

During the Public Comments segment of the meeting, I voiced my concerns regarding the open-ended and yet unknown cost of the proposed new ministerial permit that vacation rental owners will be required to purchase (in addition to our annual city business licenses, and Occupancy Taxes/fees totaling 13% per month). That permit fee amount will be influenced by several other unknown costs that will be generated if this passes, such as additional paperwork, code enforcement, Hotline attendants, and what I would see as most important: public outreach to educate the residential communities on resources, policy and procedures supposedly being created for the general public.

I once again echo these concerns as well as state my objection to the creation of the proposed Good Neighbor Brochure. A costly brochure when a door-hanger would achieve the same good? As an experienced vacation rental owner-operator in Paso Robles since 2014, I’d invite you to drive by, come in, and see the pride that I take inside and outside in my home and small business. The first thing on my list of House Rules is and has always been: Be A Good Neighbor

A simpler suggestion

That said, the more I read the draft, I see the confusing attempt made here that results in a redundant policy to that we already pay for in our community, using our trained, in-place professionals. Noise disruption, parking issues and occupancy concerns are matters for qualified Police and Sheriff’s Department response and should continue to be legally recorded through them, no matter who the occupants of the property are. If there are concerns at a property I own, I WANT the proper authorities notified to deal with the situation for many obvious reasons. Why are we not providing to our local law enforcement agencies an annually updated list of existing registered vacation rental addresses and the owner information? It seems a much simpler system would be for law enforcement to respond as they are charged to do, document the results, and when appropriate, notify owners. The city could work with law enforcement on an acceptable guideline or possible cap on offenses that would result in owner fines, charges or revoked license.

To our planning commission and city council, thank-you for making hard decisions and hearing the voices of your public.

Betsy Amato
Paso Robles

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