San Luis Obispo lifts vacation rental ban

November 13, 2013

bedThe San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-1 to allow restricted vacation rentals during a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Councilman Dan Carpenter voted against the proposed ordinance that will permit homeowners to rent out rooms for 30 days or less as long as they occupy their homes, pay a transient occupancy tax and possibly get a use permit from the city. Carpenter voted against the ordinance because it prohibits non-owner occupied homes from becoming vacation rentals.

Mayor Jan Marx did not attend the meeting.

In March, San Luis Obispo city staff sent cease and desist letters to more than 50 homeowners who had homes listed for rent on popular websites like The vacation rental ordinance banned renting a home in San Luis Obispo for less than 30 days at a time.

A group of homeowners, known as SLO Hosts, petitioned the city to amend the ordinance to allow short term home stays. Supporters of the proposed ordinance packed the chambers.

Several opponents of short term rentals argued that businesses should not operate in residential areas where privacy needs to be protected.

The council voted not to enforce the ban on vacation rentals until the ordinance comes back in front of the city for final approval sometime next year.



I don’t know that this in any way contributes to the dialogue but I found it interesting considering that I’d never heard of airbnb before the controversy broke out in SLO.


I generally support the idea of Airbnb, but I think the tricky part for staff to deal with is going to be the parking issues.

Right now, I can not build or convert part of my house to a granny unit without providing parking for the main house and the rental. This would normally be 2 off street parking for the main house and one additional for every rental unit. Renting a room out in your house also triggers the parking requirements.

It is only fair that Airbnb providers fall under the same parking requirements.


Lot of misinformation here.

About the Council meeting last night and what they did:

I was there, The CC suspended enforcement, told staff to work on an improved ordinance that would allow hosted home stays and waived any past fees that could have been due. They also told staff to create an affordable and streamlined process for applicants to get on board.


In other words, the council violated the law by taking an action not on the agenda (suspending enforcement) and by giving folks who failed to pay tax (oh, wait, they really don’t mind paying the tax, do they?) a free pass, violating the municipal code that says they should have and must pay the tax. More of the same bs from this city council that doesn’t give a hoot about doing the right thing.


The story misstates what happened last night. As a look at the agenda makes clear (, current council agenda), the council was considering whether to tell staff to draw up an ordinance that would allow vacation rentals. They did that. They did not approve any ordinance last night because no ordinance yet exists.

In ordering staff to stop enforcing the present ordinance, however, the council overstepped its authority. No public notice was given that such an action was to be considered last night. Making a decision not noticed on the agenda is a violation of the Brown Act. Somebody should sue the bastards.


Ignoring the Brown Act is common practice in this County and so it’s OK now to do this, as other agencies including the BOS is doing it when they wish. New practice!


The City Council is very naive in this. Take a pagebook from Hawaii, where they have been battling unlicensed and illegal operators of B and B’s and short term rentals in residential neighborhoods for years. In many cases, the County governments have been very successful in forcing them out of neighborhoods where the constant traffic/cars/noise was extremely upsetting to their neighbors and lowering property values. In addition, the State of Hawaii Legislature was so concerned that these people, who use VRBO and other websites to advertise their units, were not paying their state transient occupancy taxes that they attempted to take the radical step of only allowing Hawaii State licensed real estate agents to manage all resorts, legal rental rooms, and legal condos except for the major hotels! (Google it-there is a lot of information on this). Although this was narrowly defeated, the lesson is clear: those owners who advertise their units on VRBO tend not to pay their share of taxes mostly due to the fact that it is impossible to monitor their businesses, whether they rent out one night a hundred nights a year. The city council are wishful thinkers hoping that they will tap into another revenue source!


Not really a fair comparison since Hawaii is a state spread among islands; SLO’s a compact city, with way fewer short-term rentals for the city to monitor. From what I’ve read, the SLO residents using Airbnb seem more than willing to pay occupancy taxes.

Also SLO’s a long-established college town, with its residents already used to a revolving cycle of Poly/Cuesta kids in-and-out every summer. Personally, I’d rather live next to a homeowner who rents out a room to screened adult travelers once in a while than living 9 months of the year near a rental house full of noisy, messy and loud Poly party kids.


So naive-just because Airbnb says that they are more than willing to pay occupancy taxes, doesn’t mean that they will. Duh. And just because owners post their calendar on the internet along with their rates, doesn’t mean that it is easy to monitor their occupancy or rates, or that they will be even monitored, which makes cheating on taxes and gaming the system easy. If you think about it, if you don’t pay a bed tax, then you are essentially making 10% more than your advertised rate since you are collecting the 10% bed tax from the guest but not passing it on to the the CIty as taxes. A 10% BONUS!

I also notice in the 51 ads in VRBO that these houses are not in lower cost Cal Poly infested neighborhoods, but tend to be in nicer, upscale neighborhoods where the number of student rentals is at a minimum or not at all. How would you like to have a neighbor operate what is essentially a B and B next door to your 1 million dollar house?????


I would like it. These guests are tops. Those who think the SLO Hosts attract anything less than stellar people don’t know what is happening. The opponents of short term rentals have visions of gangs of Fresno partiers raiding our neighborhood-not true. And if that were to happen in the future the host would lose his license to operate and then become illegal. People, live for life, not ungrounded fears!


“if that were to happen in the future the host would lose his license to operate and then become illegal” Ha, ha, ha. Isn’t that what you and your buddies have been doing for years — operating without a license and being illegal. Come on, joker! What you been smoking?


I can only assume you have difficulty reading and formulating clear ideas from available information. Many of the airbnb folks had a license, asked to pay the TOT (but that offer was refused by the licensing dept) and most others didn’t even know about the ban (the city didn’t even know about it). All these facts (unlike the wild paranoia embraced by some folks in town) have been clearly pointed out in numerous publications.

Hijinks, you are just opposed to this and that is your right. And it is your right to spread rumor and lies. It is my right to call you on all that, and spread the truth.


Paso, you’ve drunk the Airbnb cool aid. Since Airbnb collects the rent, why don’t they also collect the tax? Because they’re happy being law breakers, that’s why. If they wanted to obey the law, it would be as easy as collecting the tax. Their whole business is built on breaking various laws, tax laws being near the top of the list.

As for those SLO residents using Airbnb being “more than willing to pay occupancy taxes,” they are obligated to pay the city tax whether their rentals are legal or not. Nobody’s stopping them. Why don’t they just pay them instead of saying they don’t mind paying them? Because they’re law breakers through and through. (Go look it up at municipal code at Oh, and here’s the good part: the renter whose “host” doesn’t collect the tax is liable for it, and can spend 6 months in jail for not turning it over to the city. How many Airbnb renters know that? The city is woefully negligent in not enforcing the law.)

And please don’t tell us, you out of towner, about how we live here. We will not just have “a rental house full of noisy, messy and loud Poly party kids,” but also a party house full of Bimmer-driving rich grown-up brats escaping from the big city to contend with. That’s a two-fer to envy. Go pick some grapes, and make your own sourgrapejuice up there in Grape Town USA.


Wow, you have a bad attitude. You don’t know the quality of guests attracted to this area. In 30 years of short term rentals (most legal and only lately discovered to be against a forgotten ordinance never before enforced) there has been NOT ONE reported problem. Only 6 lame vague complaints. We have oodles of laws to deal with any disturbances.

In fact, when asked just ‘Why do we even have this ordinance”? the staff could not cite one reason. The best and simplest thing to do would be to just repeal the ordinance.


Pete-it’s not just of the personalities of the guests, but it’s also an issue of the their cars, traffic, parking in front of neighbor’s houses, doors opening and closing in the middle of the night or early in the morning to catch the first plane out of SLO airport or warming up their car to get an early start to their next destination. It’s also the attitude of the 51 owners-how much they are actually going to not report (remember-the 10% bonus of keeping the collected bed tax for yourself and not reporting it)-they have already proven their honesty, or lack of it) in already defying the present City ordinances against short term rentals.

This is a group that I would not trust in paying their share of the bed tax because of their past behavior-besides their really lame excuses for justifying short term rentals. That “30 years of short term rentals” is bogus since VRBO has only been around since 1998-2000, and if you look on the dates of the SLO owners being on it, most have only recently joined. So yeah, this is a recent phenomenon of any significant short term rental pool in SLO and it is starting out by breaking existing laws and has almost no history of peacefully blending into the neighborhoods.


You are so far off base with your assertions I wonder if you are Bob Shanbrom-the tireless antagonizer. Just about all you say is untrue. There could be an occasional extra door closing or other minor issue and the SLO Hosts will be addressing minor nuisances like that.

Attitude of the SLO Hosts are questioned, you are either ignorant, kidding or lying. And you haven’t read my earlier posts about illegality etc. So read the posts and either submit to the truth or call me a liar.


Pete-you are touting “SLO Hosts” as an all powerful enforcer of strict rules with the power to police your group with what? remove a member from your group if they start to disrupt a neighborhood? You have the clout of a wet noodle. Your only defense to what has been posted is, “all you say is untrue,” “you are either ignorant, kidding or lying,” “you have a bad attitude,” etc, with without addressing the issue that the 50 or so homeowners now operating have been doing so illegally in defiance of the law, and have not paid your fair share of taxes for the past 30 years.