The following is a letter to the editor, published here as opinion. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the writer. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
Editor’s note: the link to the petition can be found here.
Mendocino County must stop the explosive growth of commercial Short-Term Rentals (STRs), and protect what’s left of our long-term housing. Counties across California license and limit STRs; unfortunately, Mendocino County does neither. As a result, there are at least 500 vacation rentals in the County; 90% on the coast, 4% of area housing. A distressingly disproportionate number are owned by commercial enterprises, rather than people who live in their property listings.
The Coast’s housing shortage is a full-blown crisis. The Housing Action Team North Coast Mendocino County (HAT) is concerned about the damage commercial STRs are doing to the economic and social fabric of our communities, so they’re petitioning the Board of Supervisors to prohibit additional commercial STRs immediately. HAT also wants the County to adopt a common-sense ordinance that licenses all STRs, and limits commercial STRs to 2% of area housing, by the end of 2022.
HAT is circulating a petition and gathering signatures now. They will submit the petition, and a comprehensive proposal for regulating STRs, to the Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting. You can read a summary of HAT’s proposal, and sign the petition, at www.HATMendoCoast.org.
The County must act now, as we will lose another 50 to 100 houses if commercial STRs are allowed to grow 10 – 20% in the next couple of years as expected.
Adopting a necessary, reasoned, measured STR ordinance would stop the losses and could recover 100+ houses over the next few years.
HAT proposes regulations used throughout California. The County ordinance should license all STRs, and limit STRs owned by real estate investment funds, corporations, and second-homes used primarily as vacation rentals, to 2% of area housing. The ordinance should use STR licenses and fees to fund area housing, and allow existing STRS in good standing get licensed and continue operating, until they’re sold or ownership is transferred. It should also let people rent rooms, or the house where they live, to tourists.
If you agree vacation rentals are like cookies… good unless you have too many, HAT hopes you’ll sign their petition, share it with like-minded friends and family, and help save houses for families not businesses.
Submitted by: Johanna Jensen and Elizabeth Swenson, Housing Action Team North Coast Mendocino County (HAT)