Saturday, September 26, 2015

Piedmont: Short-term, home-share rentals debate

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PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont City Council at its Monday meeting reviewed the complex and controversial topic of home-share rentals, where homeowners rent a room in their home for a short period of time to someone usually through an online service such as Airbnb.
 
These rentals for fewer than 30 days are currently prohibited in the city's code. The practice has become popular around the country for travelers looking to avoid expensive hotel lodgings. There are numerous companies offering online this type of rental.
 
After much deliberation and public testimony, the council did not take action but asked staff to prepare a report and proposed ordinance detailing what kinds of enforcement mechanisms should be in place if short-term, home-share rentals were approved. The report would go to the Planning Commission for review and recommendations to the council. The council also wanted staff to review similar issues with vacation rentals of homes.
 
Issues the council posed included: whether to place a limit on the number of nights per year that a room or a house could be rented; whether to inspect the property for health and safety reasons; and what types of fees should be charged.
 
In home-share rentals, the homeowner is on the property. In vacation rentals, the homeowner is generally not present.
 
Several people spoke supporting the idea of short-term, home-share rentals.
Jane Klein said she is "an Airbnb traveler" and has been a host for two years, with no problems. A speaker who gave the name of Alice from Oakland said she has hosted many short-term guests and never had a complaint. She believes the fears from opponents are unfounded in most cases.
 
However, the city received many emails objecting to the practice, citing strangers in the neighborhood, noise, parking, degradation of the neighborhood and other public nuisance. A report from police Chief Rikki Goede noted there have been no complaints registered with the Police Department over "temporary" home-share guests.
 
Planning Director Kate Black prepared a comprehensive survey of similarly sized cities and how they deal with short-term rentals.

Malibu requires a 12 percent occupancy tax with penalties and fines if the tax is not paid. Palm Springs requires a business license of $28 and a tax of $25 with a "good neighbor" brochure to advise neighbors of the practice. Sausalito charges $36 for a business license and 12 percent tax, with unpermitted rentals subject to fines.

All second units, which are equipped with kitchens, bath and other self-contained living amenities are prohibited for short-term rentals, as are any apartments. Home swaps where a family swaps the use of their home in exchange for a home to vacation somewhere else are permitted.

"The sharing economy is here. I have used Airbnb. This is a work in progress," Councilwoman Teddy King said.

In other business, the council approved spending $587,424 for a paving project with Granite Rock Company. The project includes resurfacing and ADA improvements to Harvard Road between Portsmouth and Annerly roads, resurfacing Requa Place, safety improvements to Moraga avenue near the Ramona avenue intersection to reduce speeds and improve lane markings. The projects are funded through Measures B and BB and vehicle registration funds.

Story Courtesy of Linda Davis




Yulonda Evans    ulondae@yahoo.com      (510)385-2823       BRE#01239875

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