Marin Voice: Short-term rental regulations help balance needs of community, visitors – Marin Independent Journal

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The Marin County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting on Jan. 11th at 5 p.m. to review proposed regulations for short-term rentals within residential communities in unincorporated Marin County.

If regulations are adopted, the California Coastal Commission must approve and return the regulations to the Board of Supervisors for final adoption early next year. Timing to finalize vacation-home regulations is critical; they must be finalized before the short-shert rental (aka STR) moratorium expires on May 23.

The county first adopted STR regulations in 2018, requiring a business license and a transient occupancy tax certificate and establishing “good neighbor” policies. This was followed by a 2022 moratorium on any new licenses for STRs as the county grappled with understanding the potential impacts of STRs on housing supply, community workforce and public safety.

For over 18 months, the county has engaged the community with meetings hosted by the Community Development Agency. I held five “community conversations” in West Marin, receiving direct feedback from hundreds of residents about STRs and their impacts on the coastal communities.

Since I was elected in 2016, I have pushed to regulate STRs, as the county has a responsibility to ensure accommodations meet basic health and safety requirements, provide visitors with information and resources for emergencies and ensure STRs are good neighbors – after all, they are located within residential communities.

In 2018, I started this work with the good neighbor policy, starting a host compliance project — meant to find unlicensed STRs — while advocating for Measure W, which generates $1.5 million annually for West Marin emergency services and residential housing.

In 2022, at my suggestion, the county initiated a moratorium on new licenses for STRs because I knew we needed time to develop fair regulations within unincorporated Marin as the number of STR licenses increased.

I strongly believe operating an STR in a residential community is a privilege that requires a level playing field for licensing, enforcement and limitation on their growth to ensure both safe accommodations for visitors and to protect residential communities and limited housing stock.

The current proposed STR regulations include basic health, wastewater and safety inspection requirements. It must also limit the number of STRs allowed in unincorporated Marin, as well as place a capacity limit or “cap” on the total number of STRs allowed in unincorporated villages and throughout the county.

I strongly support caps for both unincorporated villages and throughout Marin. The creation of caps allows for individual community flexibility to consider historical and current use while also applying a reasonable assumption that housing stock should remain residential housing to keep our communities vibrant.

Regulations aren’t always perfect, and STR regulations will not address all the issues around permanent housing in West Marin, but they are a start.

STRs affect the cost of real estate, rental prices and reduce the cumulative number of housing available for long-term residents. We are losing our residential communities throughout coastal Marin, as teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and service workers cannot afford to live in the communities they serve.

Our local businesses and volunteer fire departments are struggling to find staff. School enrollments are declining and it’s difficult to fill teaching positions. These jobs and positions contribute to our communities; they are the coaches of our baseball teams, volunteers for nonprofits and they help our coastal villages remain vibrant and welcoming for visitors.

STR regulations will not solve the housing crisis in West Marin. We will need to dig deeper in the coming years to develop incentives to increase the stock of residential rentals, encourage the development of affordable and workforce housing, and more.

I am thankful for the community’s expression and input throughout this process. The Board of Supervisors now must weigh the differing opinions and decide on the next steps for STR regulations in Marin.

For individuals who are unable to participate in the supervisors meeting Jan. 11, my office will be holding a STR community listening session on Jan. 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for community members to share their thoughts.

Learn more online to register at bit.ly/3GS9EiZ.

Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni represents District 4. He is running for reelection in the March 5 primary. Marin candidates are encouraged to email views to [email protected] before the IJ’s Jan. 1 cutoff for those running for office on the upcoming ballot.

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