Planning commission approves downtown short-term vacation rental, discusses concerns

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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The Winters Planning Commission met on June 28 to consider for approval the Barsotti Vacation Rental Project application to permit an unhosted short-term vacation rental home located on Russell Street.

The City of Winters defines a short-term vacation rental as “rental of an entire privately owned house, townhouse unit, condominium unit, apartment or other residence, or any space within a dwelling unit rented independently, for stays of less than 30 days.”

Senior Planner Kirk Skierski introduced the item and described the home, located in downtown Winters and owned by Thaddeus and Moyra Barsotti, as a two-story, 2,469 square feet, four-bedroom, two-bath single family residence with a detached garage and accessory dwelling unit (ADU). The garage and ADU were not part of the applicant’s proposal, he said.

Approval of a vacation rental is based on the use of the property and its surroundings. However, the commission could potentially deny an application if finding neighborhood compatibility is not maintained or if it determined there were too many rentals on a given street. Given the size of the Barsotti home, it can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests, Skierski said.

The applicant also proposed to limit the number of guest vehicles to two and designate off-street parking in the driveway for those vehicles.

Skierski said staff concurred that by limiting the number of guest vehicles to two it would be consistent with the city’s municipal code requirements. Should parking issues arise, the applicant indicated a potential third inside garage parking space could be made available in the future, if necessary.

The commission was advised that the Winters Fire Department and Planning Division inspected the property on June 8 and found it to bea public  life and safety compliant.

Vice Chair Lisa Baker said the project seemed “very straight forward” and commended Skierski for including the parking discussion.

“I am troubled by the fact that this is a very large property with multiple bedrooms that would build up into an Airbnb style rental at a time when there is very little product available for folks in the community to access,” Baker said.

Baker recalled conversations from previous commission meetings concerning the city maintaining a balance between short-term rentals and housing units available in the community. She requested staff report back with a ratio list between vacation rentals and housing stock.

Commissioner Judith Arce said she shared Baker’s concerns and added, “I think it’s a great idea and I love the possibility to allow these rentals. I just hate that we are losing the opportunity to house more individuals that want to be here long-term.”

Skierski responded to a question from Arce stating that the City does not have a limit on the number vacation rentals permitted in the city’s municipal code and to do so would require an ordinance approved by the city council.

Staff recommended the commission adopt PC 2202-06, find it exempt from CEQA and approve the Barsotti Vacation Rental Project, which it did unanimously with Commissioner Nancy Northrup being absent.

Planning Commission meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Information can be found on the “Planning Commission” page on the City website.

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