Planning Commission to vote on Airbnb short-term rental ordinance

The Winters Planning Commission is expected to vote on an ordinance that would regulate Airbnb properties in the city.
Graphic: Winters Express
Graphic: Winters Express

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The measure would amend the zoning ordinance portion of the city’s municipal code in an attempt to better enforce noise and order laws within the city’s limits, officials say. The ordinance would group Airbnbs and others short-term rentals into two categories: Hosted — one where the owner or primary residence of a home lives on the premise while offering portions of a house through short-term rental websites — and non-hosted where landlords largely do not live on the property. Non-hosted operators would face additional steps before being cleared to operate in Winters compared to hosted operators, according to draft versions of the ordinance reviewed by the Express. City officials say the ordinance is necessary because Airbnbs and other short-term rental properties have drawn “complaints from citizens that vacation rentals are just a destination for partying,” according to a staff report included in an agenda for the upcoming planning commission meeting. The staff report did not cite specific instances in other communities; in Winters, many of the complaints about reportedly problematic short-term rental properties have come from planning commissioners themselves. Commissioners say problems tend to arise in the summer months at the height of tourism season, though data released from the Winters Police Department showed there were less than a half-dozen calls for service to short-term rental properties and few of those police dispatches occurred during the summer. Commissioners hoped to vote on the ordinance in April but were forced to delay the vote following an issue involving a public notice that was supposed to run in the newspaper. Some city officials lamented the delay, saying it would push back a necessary city council vote to the middle of summer. It was not clear if the city council would fast-track the vote as part of a consent calendar at any of their upcoming meetings or scrutinize the measure over the next few months. The planning commission meets at City Hall on Tuesday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.]]>

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