The following is a letter to the editor published here for comment. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author. If you would like to send a letter to the editors, please write to [email protected].
Mendocino County needs to stop the explosive growth of short-term commercial rentals (STRs) and protect what’s left of our long-term homes. Counties throughout California license and limit STRs; Unfortunately, Mendocino County doesn’t do either. As a result, there are at least 500 vacation homes in the county; 90% on the coast, 4% of the living space. A worryingly disproportionate number are owned by commercial businesses rather than people who live in their real estate offerings.
The housing shortage on the coast is a full-blown crisis. Concerned about the damage commercial STRs are doing to the economic and social fabric of our communities, the North Coast Mendocino County (HAT) Housing Action Team is petitioning the Board of Supervisors to immediately ban further commercial STRs. HAT also wants the county to enact a sensible ordinance licensing all STRs and limiting commercial STRs to 2% of the housing area by the end of 2022.
HAT is now circulating a petition and collecting signatures. They will present the petition and a full proposal for regulating STRs to the Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting. You can read a summary of the HAT proposal and sign the petition www.HATMendoCoast.org.
The county needs to act now as we will lose another 50-100 homes if commercial STRs are allowed to grow 10-20% as expected over the next few years.
Passing a necessary, reasoned and proportionate STR regulation would halt the losses and restore more than 100 homes over the next few years.
HAT proposes regulations to be used throughout California. The county ordinance should license all STRs and limit STRs owned by real estate investment trusts, businesses and second homes used primarily as vacation rentals to 2% of the residential area. Regulation should use STR licenses and fees to fund residential areas and allow existing STRS in good standing to be licensed and continue to operate until sold or ownership transferred. It should also allow people to rent rooms or the house they live in to tourists.
If you agree vacation rentals are like cookies…well, unless you have too many, HAT hopes you’ll sign their petition, share it with like-minded friends and family, and help build homes for families, not businesses to rescue.
Submitted by: Johanna Jensen and Elizabeth Swenson, Housing Action Team North Coast Mendocino County (HAT)