Guest column: Opposition to proposed short term rental ordinance

“The need of regulation for short term rentals is clearly based on anecdotal observations and opinions rather than actual facts. As outlined in the email from the police chief, no police incidents have been reported in the last year at short term rental properties.”

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By Benny Dippel It has been a great privilege to have the experience of welcoming people traveling from around the world, local Winters residents and their families, as well as people in the area for business, into my home in Winters over the past two years. Between the great restaurants, proximity to beautiful Lake Berryessa and friendly residents, what is not to love about this town. I was disappointed to hear about the proposed new ordinance targeting vacation rentals. The draft proposal of the vacation home ordinance is marketed as an attempt to maintain the public welfare and safety, in practicality it is an attempt to extinguish vacation rentals from the City of Winters through steep financial burdens and unnecessary compliance. The need of regulation for short term rentals is clearly based on anecdotal observations and opinions rather than actual facts. As outlined in the email from the police chief, no police incidents have been reported in the last year at short term rental properties. Two incidents are referenced to be at an apartment complex but “the possible corrected address” is a short term rental. The actual differences between the rental of a personal residence for 29 days compared to 31 days is inconsequential yet the requirements between the two under the new proposition would differ vastly. The proposed requirement that the owner or agent of an un-hosted vacation rental must be available in person within one hour upon request is an egregious example of making an un-hosted vacation rental in Winters impossible. It would be ridiculous to require that same standard from a landlord renting a personal residence for 31 days, but the proposed ordinance finds it reasonable when renting a house for 29 days. Additionally, the draft proposal attempts to limit the number of guests based on the number of available parking spaces at a residence. If parking is an issue in Winters then this same requirement should be implemented for all residences or a parking permit system put in place. Placing restrictions and unrealistic administrative burdens on a certain sub-set of houses doesn’t make sense. The word “AirBnb” gets thrown around a lot and most people automatically have a negative connotation. Based on conversations I have had it appears that some people believe airbnb actually buys and operates these houses rather than it being a platform to connect homeowners with guests. Instead of regulations and threat of punitive measures, the city should focus on educating both hosts and the general public about the platforms that exist to facilitate short term rentals in the effort to create a safe, non-disruptive environment.     

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