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Should Paso Robles regulate Airbnbs and vacation homes? Here’s your chance to weigh in

jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Paso Robles will host a public workshop Tuesday to review a draft short-term rental ordinance that would regulate Airbnb room shares and vacation homes throughout the city.

The City Council will consider a draft ordinance prepared by a seven-person task force made up of stakeholders and residents. The draft would head to the Planning Commission if council members give it the go-ahead.

The council began looking into rules for short-term rentals — rooms or houses leased for 30 days or less — in spring 2015, after receiving complaints from residents about the rentals in their neighborhoods. A standing-room-only crowd filled Council Chambers during a workshop on the topic in November 2015, and a task force was formed to develop policy recommendations in April 2016.

“The idea is we’d get people from all sides of the issue together,” said Warren Frace, Paso Robles community development director.

The draft ordinance the task force developed would require those renting rooms or homes to obtain different permits based on the type of rental. Home shares and vacation houses, rentals with event spaces and bed and breakfasts would all require city approval of some kind. Frace said the price of licenses and permits has not yet been determined.

Those renting would also be required to provide a certain number of parking spaces, depending on the number of rooms being rented and the number of occupants using the space overnight and during the day.

Frace said Paso Robles is trying to seek out and license such businesses, which provide the city with transient occupancy tax dollars at a 10 percent rate. Paso Robles took in about $250,000 in taxes from short-term rentals during the 2015-16 fiscal year, he said.

The city is home to 167 licensed short-term rentals as of November, Frace said. If a short-term rental ordinance is put in place, the city will increase its efforts to encourage licensing, and if all rentals were properly licensed, the city could collect about $100,000 more in taxes, he said.

Dan Jones joined the task force — which met eight times from May to September — as a concerned neighbor living near a vacation home. Although he said he was initially concerned about having “new neighbors every weekend,” there haven’t been constant parties or noise disturbances.

“Overall, we’ve had probably fewer issues than we anticipated,” he said.

Jones said he helped contribute a statement to the draft that encourages the Planning Commission or City Council to look into density requirements, which would limit the number of short-term rentals allowed.

Kathy Bonelli, owner of Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, was also a member of the task force. She said the task force included a good mix of residents, with some more in favor of short-term rentals and some more opposed.

Bonelli said the parking aspect of the ordinance may prove to be an issue, as apartments located downtown in commercially zoned areas have fewer spaces available than homes in residential areas.

“It makes it hard to make one carte blanche rule,” she said.

It will also be important to enforce the ordinance fairly, so everyone renting units pays the same taxes, she said. The voluntary good neighbor policy built into the ordinance will also ensure renters and guests don’t disturb neighbors living in the area, Bonelli said.

“It’s our city — we’re inviting guests into our city,” she said.

The City Council’s short-term rental task force workshop will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Paso Robles City Hall, 1000 Spring St.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

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