County to Explore Impact of Short Term Rentals

Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced that the Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a motion she co-authored with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to assess the impact of short-term rentals in the county’s unincorporated areas.

In some areas of the county including Chapman Woods, short-term rentals have negatively affected the quality of life due to increased traffic, crowded parking, noise and safety concerns.

“The short-term rental market operates mostly outside the county’s regulation,” said Supervisor Barger. “We want to be sure we have the necessary tools to oversee the lawful operation of this type of lodging, and this motion is a first step to understanding the current state of that market.”

Short-term rentals are not subject to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) paid by hotels. An appropriate TOT on short-term rentals could result in several million dollars in revenue for the County each year.  Recent studies have also found that the use of short-term rentals can cause landlords to take rental units off the market, a move that dramatically impacts rents and rental vacancy rates. A 2015 study found that 7,316 units were taken off the rental market by the use of Airbnb, the equivalent of seven years of affordable housing construction.

“Right now, we need to do everything within our power to ensure that we expand, not decrease, available affordable housing,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion. “We do not want to ban short-term rentals, but we want to ensure that short-term rentals do not have a negative impact on our very important work to reduce homelessness and our efforts to reduce the number of low- and moderate-income people who are being priced out of our local rental market.”

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