SLO battling against room rentals

August 15, 2013

bedSan Luis Obispo city staff sent cease and desist letters to more than 50 home owners who list rooms in their homes for rent on Airbnb.

Airbnb is a popular website where people go to rent rooms in 192 countries for a variety of prices. There are currently 27 hosts in San Luis Obispo with the average homeowner making $751 a month through the site, according to Airbnb.

Just a few weeks ago, there were more than 50 San Luis Obispo locations listed. That was before the city sent letters to homeowners listed on the site giving them until August 12 to remove themselves from Airbnb or face fines.

A city ordinance requires that homeowners rent rooms for at least 30 days at a time.

 


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pasoparent5

In SLO, where the city should just back off, they want to shut down short-term rentals, where the occupants are probably middle-class or well-off tourists, hoping to spend $$$ in town. These folks travel around for a few days, pump $$ into the local economy and are probably away from the rental 90% of the time sight-seeing.


Yet In Paso, it’s almost the opposite issue. There are many rental houses here occupied illegally by 6,7,8 adults and 5+ cars…yet the city does zero about it. The surrounding homes’ resale values are impacted and the neighborhoods go downhill when such high-density living is allowed in single-family neighborhoods.


When the government SHOULD step in, they don’t. And when they should back off, they intrude.


abigchocoholic

Why is it the City’s business what a home OWNER does with her own property?

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Seriously, do you people not see the need for this? Do you really want a new person sleeping in your neighbor’s house every night? Is that really what you paid 500k to own a house in this beautiful county for, to have a flop house as a neighbor?


And if your neighbor can rent out rooms in their house, what’s next? Why can’t a neighbor run an automobile repair shop on their lawn and driveway? Why can’t a neighbor run a retail nursury out of their front yard or a second hand store? Maybe a mini pig farm in the backyard?


It’s real simple. Commercial enterprises are not appropriate in residential neighborhoods. I think it’s pretty clear that’s what we all expected when we bought our properties in residential zoned areas. If you want a commercial enterprise, do it in a commercially zoned area.


r0y

Oh, so now we should have a say in what our neighbors do inside their own house? And by “we” I mean some unelected city bureaucrat.


Here’s a clue: My neighbors have been renting out their rooms, homes, and converted garages FOR YEARS. So, yeah. There you go. Now what? More control? More suppression of private life?


My friends in Nipomo live next door to a family that does, indeed, work on a great number of cars in their garage/driveway/lawn. So now what? Shut them down? Lock them up? Seize their private property?


Commercial enterprises are not appropriate in residential neighborhoods? So all that Mixed-Use crap that SLO constantly pushes is garbage? Oh, it’s appropriate for residential space in commercial neighborhoods, but not the other way around?


People who approach issues like this frighten me.


abigchocoholic

Oh, so now we should have a say in what our neighbors do inside their own house? And by “we” I mean some unelected city bureaucrat.

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Absolutely, when they are running a business. This is a no–brainer. It’s just common sense.


Here’s a clue: My neighbors have been renting out their rooms, homes, and converted garages FOR YEARS. So, yeah. There you go. Now what? More control? More suppression of private life?

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You have to think of the bigger picture not just how you and your neighbor get along. Laws aren’t made for one situation they are made for across the board situations. Again, this is a no brainer.


My friends in Nipomo live next door to a family that does, indeed, work on a great number of cars in their garage/driveway/lawn. So now what? Shut them down? Lock them up? Seize their private property?

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Absolutely. Again, this is a no brainer.


You mistakenly believe that because you and your two neighbors get along, that the law doesn’t apply to them. Think more broadly. What if your neighbor wants to run a ____________ (fill in the blank with your business of choice) and the noise or the stench or the traffic become seriously annoying or lower your property value by 30% and running the quality of your street. Then does it matter to you?


OnTheOtherHand

How about an attitude that reflects some degree of tolerance for reality? If your neighbor is running a business that creates a real and steady negative impact on the neighborhood, then have laws to deal with it. If it is a sideline/supplementary business that has minimal and infrequent impact, just live with it.


I recognize that not everyone agrees about what constitutes “minimal” or “infrequent” so this does make for more complicated legislation. It also bothers bureaucrats who want clear and obvious guidelines to make their job easy. But there need to be paths for people to get ahead without gambling a fortune and minimally regulated sideline businesses qualify.


As to the “property values” issue, you won’t get much sympathy for me. I think it’s a racket to have the government enforcing issues for that purpose alone. If you want that kind of protection either buy into an HOA or buy a property big enough to provide your own buffer zone from the “undesirables.”


r0y

Suppose my neighbor is so mis-informed, he’s a practicing communist (or progressive, as they’re known today). Obviously a huge detriment to society (best form of mass-death = marxism), should I have a say in that, too?


What if they’re lighting up a blunt? (and not for medicinal purposes) Should I report zem to zee authorities, ja?


zaphod

the Reich masters were hardly Marxist r0y. ja?


Zuma7

Your post reminds me of what goes on in Oceanside, Ca.


Homeowners, that rent out their 3 or 4 bedroom homes to several families.

There was a story last week in one of the SanDiego papers….there was a fire

in one of the homes, it turned out there were 15 people living in the home.

They think the fire was started by some of the kids. The house was destroyed.

Some of the neighbors were happy about it, as that home became a flop

house…..a number of cars were always parked on the street. Garbage, and toys

left outside the home all the time, etc. You can imagine…..


Not to mention the decline in property values to a neighborhood when this goes

on. This was just one story of many, in Oceanside.


I sure hope this is not going to happen in SLO…..but it seems to be a growing trend

in Southern California.


SLOBIRD

Uh, am I not wrong in that SLO treats house rentals as a business since they collect a Business Tax on ALL rental property, commercial and residential. So what is the difference if you live in a family neighbor, have a property owner rent out a 5 bedroom house next to you to 5 students and they constantly have friends coming to stay for a week, weekends, holidays, etc. versus someone renting out a bedroom during the summer? So, are you saying no one should rent out a residential house for economy gain or should not be taxed for renting out a residential house? You do not have a good argument in SLO where every other house seems like a rental. Ask the SLO Neighborhood Services how many residential rentals are in SLO, you will be amazed.


abigchocoholic

So what is the difference if you live in a family neighbor, have a property owner rent out a 5 bedroom house next to you to 5 students and they constantly have friends coming to stay for a week, weekends, holidays, etc. versus someone renting out a bedroom during the summer?

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You fail to appreciate that rules are made to apply across the board. Anyone can devise a hypothetical on just about any ordinance that seems to show something illegal is just about the same as something legal in a particular situation. It’s really meaningless. And it doesn’t negate the need for common sense ordinances like no commercial enterprises in a residential neighborhood.


Again people, this is a no brainer.


Kevin Rice

“This is a no brainer” isn’t a logical argument. Nor is the time-worn pig farm. Good grief.


Make your points, not rhetoric. I choose not to live in an HOA development and don’t want government to act like one. Not do I believe every neighbor should be subject to everyone else’s ideals and expectations. They paid $500K also and that should buy a heck of a lot of independence.


abigchocoholic

This is a no brainer” isn’t a logical argument. Nor is the time-worn pig farm. Good grief.

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It’s called a conclusion. Conclusions come at the end of arguments. I gave several arguments before the conclusion. Not allowing people to open up their houses as residential motels is a common ordinance in residential communities across the nation. Such operations are dangerous to the homeowner, dangerous to the neighbors, cause overcrowding, cannot be regulated, devalue the neighborhood etc. etc.


It’s like you people are arguing against retail zones or industrial zones or similar common sense restrictions on uses of space. You’re just patently wrong. Again, this is a no brainer. If you don’t like it, stop the worthless whining about it and move to have the law changed. I can virtually guarantee your neighbors don’t want you turning your house into the neighborhood motel so good luck with that endeavor.


Kevin Rice

There is no “patently wrong (or right)” regarding opinion. My conclusion is less regulation is better. It’s a no brainer.


Slowerfaster

WHOA !

False dichotomy. While one may be entitled TO an opinion, that does not mean that opposing ‘opinions’ are equal…or equally valid.


SLOBIRD

D your homework, neighbor. Ask the City how many “Home Occupation” permits they have issued. These are businesses that are allowed to operate out of their homes with certain restrictions. Not that they can’t do it, but restrictions are established for each location to protect neighbors, quality of life, etc. Examples of restrictions are signage, parking. hours of operation, deliveries of good, storage, etc. But it is definitely allowed. So what is so different about short term room rentals or another type of home business (may need no signage, off street parking, etc.) but should be allowed.


abigchocoholic

These are businesses that are allowed to operate out of their homes with certain restrictions. Not that they can’t do it, but restrictions are established for each location to protect neighbors, quality of life, etc.

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Now you are agreeing with me. Running a flop house–having a new transient or group of transients sleeping in your house every night or every other night is one of the restrictions. And for a multitude a good reasons, the first and foremost of which is safety.


One last time. This is a no brainer. Restrictions are necessary and this is clearly a good one.


If you are really that upset about it, get the law changed. Otherwise obey it because just whining about it accomplishes nothing.


Host

Interesting point. Airbnb does handle all of the communication and payment.


Pelican1

How can you be fined for merely placing an ad? It doesn’t mean you will actually rent a room for less than 30 days? This is nothing more than an ill-conceived veiled threat.

No doubt 1/2 the city staff have used these rooms for “business” meetings.


SLOBIRD

Didn’t Mayor, Councilman, Cal Poly Instructor Allen Settle rent out rooms In the house he says he lived in while his family lived in Arroyo Grande and the City Government conceded he was legal. Is this the same government that does not want you to rent your rooms? Rent is rent, one day, one week, one month, etc. Obviously the bed tax (Transit tax is the issue). Money, money, money!


Kevin Rice

The city is attacking short-term rentals, not all room rentals. However, some believe any rental should require a business license. I’ve not heard if the city is pursuing this angle.


SLOBIRD

The City already has (for about 15 years now) tax on all rental income over 30 days. Under 30 days it is the Transit Tax aka Occupancy Tax.


Kevin Rice

I don’t believe it is well enforced.


SLOBIRD

Kevin, the City obtains the County tax listing for residential properties with no home owners exemption ($7,500 deducted from the home value) and then goes after them because they not occupying the house in SLO (this is a no brainer) PLUS, the tenants sign up for the water (same office as business tax staff), City knows who rents and who does not!


Slowerfaster

There are a LOT of underground cheaters in Snobville that charge high class rents. They consider it ‘found money’.

You think they report this income on their taxes ?


Liars and cheats, and they’re YOUR neighbors !


paragon

The city has aggressively pursued that angle in the past. Just ask Karen. This was covered in your very own CCN back in 2010: http://calcoastnews.com/2010/08/san-luis-obispo-seeking-business-fee-and-tax-revenue/


Kevin Rice

Yes, it’s been pushed but not very.hard.


paragon

Yes, I was also reminded of the Settle situation when I read this article. Settle claimed he lived in the house, but in actuality he had four students living there and paying rent, which meant that:

1) If Settle and his wife really lived there, they were violating SLO housing code occupancy limit for that property

2) If Settle didn’t live there, he was violating election law.

2) Settle was breaking SLO city code by not having the appropriate license for renting his house

3) Settle should have claimed his rental income on his city finance filings but did not.


But of course the city looked the other way and Settle got away with his dishonesty.


SLOBIRD

So what is the difference between “guest” house, “bed & breakfast”, “vacation” rental. SLO appears to have several of each on the internet, easy to google, but the City will now come a knocken…


abigchocoholic

So what is the difference between “guest” house, “bed & breakfast”, “vacation” rental.

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It’s the difference between R1, r2, r3 and commercial. It’s the difference between going to the auto dealership to buy a Mercedes and after you pay they try and hand you the keys to a kia. Nobody pays $1,000,000 for their upscale residential SLO home to have a secret flop house run next door.


If you want to run a flop house, run it legitimately in an area zoned for flop houses with a proper commercial license. It’s called playing above board and by the rules.


SLOBIRD

My point was if I advertise as a “guest” house and rent you a room for a couple of days, or I advertise as a “bed and bath” and rent you a room for a couple of days with breakfast, or I rent you a “vacation” home for a couple of days and you get to cook your own breakfast if you want one, what is the big deal. What about the folks who do home “exchanges” for a week, month, year etc., is this illegal too? Life is just not so simple!


Jorge Estrada

After reading all of the hoopla in government, I’ve considered renting out rooms near the Gov Center for 30 minutes at a time. Senior discounts are not likely because most retire before then.


r0y

HAHA! Perfect, as there are a lot of prostitutes in that Gov Center…


SLOBIRD

Beautiful!


SLOBIRD

Government once again take control of our personal life. Stay out of my bank accounts, my pockets and my house. Anyone read where Smart TV’s starting 2014 will have camera’s built in them and you will be able to be watched in your home. Add to that the black boxes going into the cars as of 2014 and you no longer have any privacy. Money, the root of all evil, and government is evil!


r0y

1 Timothy 6-10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.


OnTheOtherHand

Are you standing in for Ted Slanders while he is out of town? If so, just quoting the Bible without pontificating in a subtly sarcastic way about its meaning is not going to cut it. Maybe I should volunteer next time.


pasoparent5

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with money itself. The saying is “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”


WIth that said, does government LOVE money? Yep…especially OUR money. ;)


SLOBIRD

Thank you for the clarification. Very important difference!


isoslo

This is nothing more than a money grab by our overpaid city employees. Most of the people renting out the rooms are just trying to get a little extra cash by renting a room on an irregular basis to some travelers. The profit is small. The greedy city sees an opportunity to extort money from it’s citizens without providing anything in return. We should be thrilled to have some tourists come to town to spend their money. We should be glad that the rent they pay is going directly to the citizens rather than mostly corporate chain hotels. I am so tired of the greed of our government and the people who make money off the government! Government for the benefit of the government employees is getting ridiculous!


r0y

Obviously the city wants these frugal tourists and their meager spending to do it elsewhere! We’re top-notch here! Ask Ofrah.


OnTheOtherHand

To be fair, I suspect that they are more concerned about protecting their existing “Protection Racket” in the form or hotel taxes. They may be greedy but I don’t think that they see enough profit to justify the hassle of trying to collect such fees from people who function as motel operators on that small a scale.


Of course, it could also be just an ego thing. “How dare these people earn money without getting our official permission!”


r0y

Why is it the City’s business what a home OWNER does with her own property?


Sure, I get that the City gouges the Hotels/Motels for taxes, and I can see why Hotel/Motel businesses don’t want more competition, pointing out less room rentals for them = less leeching for the City…


So what is to stop someone from setting up a 30-month rental agreement with Airbnb and Airbnb can handle the rest? The homeowners can then say they are renting their room for 30 days, and Airbnb would be the sole payer. The actual people staying would then pay Airbnb.


Problem solved. It’s always easy to out-maneuver bureaucrats, all they know how to do is create more government, which ultimately slows them down to a sludge.


Sarah Bellum

Why does the argument to property rights not involve the neighbors’ right to a residential neighborhood free from parking, noise, and security concerns?


ds_gray

You’re convicting the renter before they’ve moved in!


You have no control over who lives next door to you unless you own the property next door. That’s why the Fair Housing Act was created.


People should be allowed to rent a room out if they see fit, especially when times are tough (like NOW), but the Government of the People’s Republic of SLO doesn’t see it that way..


And they sure want to be looking into your bedroom, if they’re bothering to comb through AirBnB and find scofflaw homeowners trying to make a few extra bucks!


Sarah Bellum

Again, why does your right to use and enjoy your property as you see fit preclude my right to use and enjoy my property, free from parking, noise, and security concerns?


SLOBIRD

Which is why there is a “Home Occupation Permit” process which allows activities with certain imposed restrictions. Also, SLO has an ordinance that allows no more than 5 related occupants to occupy a rental, you must have at least 2 bathrooms and provide after street parking. But then again, you can always get a variance and have the rules changed, especially if you are special, right Allen! Living in SLO has no guarantees, Sarah. You buy your $500 thousand house and a daycare center can move in next door and they are regulated only by the State and the City has no say. Or, you could have a house full of students or a rental with two big families. Or a neighbor who doesn’t like yard work and the back yard is stuffed with junk. Just no guarantees regarding neighbors. Or you could live on a creek in SLO and have visitors camping from time to time.