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City of SLO drafts rules for short-term rentals

A draft ordinance to control home stays, or rentals of 30 days or fewer in owner-occupied homes in San Luis Obispo, will soon go before the City Council for approval.

The city’s Planning Commission will first review it on Wednesday.

Key components of the ordinance include requirements that no more than four overnight guests be allowed at one time, guests houses are prohibited, one on-site parking space must be available and a responsible party must be within a 15-minute drive of the property at all times it is occupied. Adjacent neighbors must also be given contact information for the property owner.

In addition, a $305 permit and a business license would be required to operate a home-stay rental, and the homeowner will be required to pay transient occupancy tax and Tourism Business Improvement District tax.

Vacation rentals that are not the homeowner's main residence will remain illegal.

A growing number of people offer home stays through popular websites such as Airbnb and VRBO.

In November 2013 a group of San Luis Obispo property owners prevailed in their fight for permission to rent rooms in their homes to travelers on a short-term basis.

The homeowners lobbied the council after several people received enforcement letters from the city telling them to cease renting rooms or face fines that can escalate up to $500 per violation.

After several months of debate, the City Council voted 3-1 to create an ordinance that will allow home stays. At the same time, the council voted to not enforce the ban on vacation rentals until the ordinance was written and adopted.

The Planning Commission will forward its recommendations to the City Council in November. If approved by the council, the ordinance will likely take effect early next year.

At that time, enforcement will begin again. Violators of the new law could lose their permits.

In May, the Arroyo Grande City Council approved a similar ordinance: For a one-time fee of about $420 and an annual $31 business license, Arroyo Grande homeowners can apply for a permit to rent up to two rooms for a short time in an owner-occupied home.

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