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Should we have a moratorium on new vacation rentals?

On Tuesday, May 10, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will consider establishing a 45-day temporary moratorium on new vacation rental permits. The urgency ordinance would address a sudden spike in vacation rental applications while Permit Sonoma works to bring a comprehensive vacation rental ordinance to the Board of Supervisors for consideration on August 2.

The County says that while vacation rentals play an important role in Sonoma County’s tourism economy, they also have the potential to cause detrimental impacts and pose a risk to the public safety, health and welfare of the county and its residents. After holding public meetings in December and July, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to undertake a comprehensive Vacation Rental Program update to address these negative impacts. On March 17 the Sonoma County Planning Commission held a public hearing on these proposed revisions but voted to continue the public hearing pending additional staff work.

However, since the March 17 Planning Commission meeting was announced, there has been an approximately 500 percent increase in vacation rental permit applications received by Permit Sonoma. The County says issuing numerous vacation rental permits in areas that may be subject to additional regulations would undermine the current planning effort to protect the public from the negative impacts of vacation rentals that are improperly sited, over-concentrated or under-regulated.

If approved by a four-fifths majority of the Board of Supervisors, the moratorium would apply to new vacation rental permits submitted after May 10. The moratorium would not apply to existing vacation rentals, hosted rentals, rentals in the Coastal Zone, or any complete applications for new vacation rentals submitted prior to the moratorium.

The public can participate in the Board of Supervisors hearing on the moratorium or submit comments directly to Permit Sonoma at PermitSonoma-Comp-Planning@sonoma-county.org. Information on how to participate in the meeting and meeting materials can be found on the Board of Supervisors’ calendar.

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