Nothing has been suggested to reduce the number of occupants as a solution to the problems of overloaded septics, excessive noise and inadequate parking. In fact, they are actually recommending a REDUCTION of quiet hours.
It will be interesting to see if the board is swayed more by community and environmental concerns or the concern$ of the North Bay Realtors Association and vacation rental property investors that the PRMD clearly favors.Full staff recommendation presented at this meeting(PDF: 244kb)Agendas and Board Actions will be found
Vacation Rentals Staff Report with Attachments (PDF: 288 kb)
Vacation Rentals Discussion Papers (PDF: 562 kb)
EPS Report on the Impact of Vacation Rentals on Housing in Sonoma County (PDF: 802 kb)
COMMENTARY ON THE ABOVE DOCUMENTS & CHANGES THAT WILL BE RECOMMENDED TO THE BOARD:
"Currently, the vacation rental rules allow for a guest house to be used for vacation rental purposes only if it is used as part of a whole-house rental. A guest house has a maximum size of 640 square feet and has a full bathroom but no kitchen. Rental of a guest house alone is currently prohibited by the Code because guest houses may not be rented or leased separately from the main home. A change is proposed to allow an exception to this rule when a legally established guest house is offered as a hosted rental while the owner remains in residence in the main house. This change would apply to guest houses only; second dwelling units may not be used vacation rentals because they are considered to be affordable rental housing stock."
(f) 4. Per Parcel Limit on Number of Residences or Structures. Only a single residence, and legally established guest house meeting current standards shall be used as a vacation rental. Only one (1) tenant shall be allowed on-site at any given time: second residences or accessory structures shall not be leased, subleased, rented or sub-rented separately from the main dwelling. Parcels containing multiple residences or habitable structures may only be used as vacation rentals subject to the granting of a use permit, except that two (2) residences or structures may be used when the total number of guestrooms does not exceed five (5.) Tents, yurts and RVs are not allowed as a part of a vacation rental.
"Leveling the Playing Field Many comments received through the public input process focused on the need to level the playing field for good operators who comply with all of the rules, pay their Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT), and provide safe, well-managed vacation rentals to our visitors."
20030 River Blvd, Como Estate permit # ZPE11-0020 -
permitted for 2 guestrooms, 4 max overnight. Advertising 5 guestrooms, sleeping 10.
Monte Cristo Ave?, River Queen - 7 bedrooms that sleep 20! Snippets from a visitor review: "A group of 15 adults stayed here for a week. The bedroom/bathroom situation was not good. For 4 of the bedrooms you have to walk through one bedroom where a couple is sleeping to get to another bedroom." and "The septic system seems to not be able to handle multiple showers and toilet use and back ups which caused the bathroom sink to clog along with water from one toilet leaking and soaking the floor." Courtesy of Russian River Getaways.
"Limit the number of vehicles associated with a vacation rental based on the number of bedrooms and available off-street parking. Require that the limit be included in online listings and advertisements."
Public comment/suggestions for improvements to the VRO are still being accepted by email on the PRMD website: PRMD-VacationRentals@sonoma-county.org
Data compiled and analyzed, and policy options formed by the PRMD as of May 18, 2015:
Vacation Rental Facts - 84kb pdf
Policy Options Table - 56kb pdf
Workshop Presentation - 1.73mb pdf
Reviewing this data and considering the limitations of the PRMD ability to enforce the standards, issue effective citations/penalties and revoke permits, I feel the best solution to most of the problems that numerous residents are having with the current Vacation Rental Ordinance would be to change the occupancy allowance to be in keeping with traditional single family residential dwellings: 1 person per bedroom, plus 1. (See Sonoma County document PJR-032) No plus 2 overnight and no more than 2 additional daytime visitors. This would be especially important for locations that are on septic/cesspool systems.
Page 12 of the Workshop Presentation shows a graph
of Opinions on Vacation Rentals by District from Website Feedback. According to the Board of Supervisor's Resolution of Intent of 11/05/14, the staff of the PRMD were to conduct a robust public outreach campaign to initiate review of the current effectiveness of the vacation rental ordinance to determine if revisions to the zoning code were needed. Supposedly this was to open discussion of possible improvements to the ordinance, NOT a popularity poll pitting vacation rental investors against distressed residents. Curious too how they came up with these By District numbers since the website feedback is done via an email, not a fill in form requiring information showing which district one was in.
At the first meeting I attended the PRMD gave everyone colored dot to place on a map to indicate where you were having problems. There were 2 dots for each category, including green dots to show support of a vacation rental location. I requested more yellow dots so I could pinpoint the 7 problem parking locations associated with ONE un permitted vacation rental. I was told that only 2 dots were allowed "to level the playing field", a buzz phrase I've heard numerous time since, usually referring to whether or not vacation rentals were paying the Transient Occupancy Tax.Page 2 of the Workshop Presentation states "No parties/events in R1, RR". What this REALLY means is no parties over the currently allowed occupancy allowance: 10-18 people. - with contact info for complaints: 59k excel file Note: Vacation Rental permits which have been revoked will also show up on this list, except the PRMD has never revoked a Vacation Rental Permit (per Aug, 18, 2015 public meeting) Double check current status by a Search by Address or APN.
- All Sonoma County applications for zoning permits for Vacation Rentals can be found here. Vacation Rentals will be listed in the Planning Application Reports under SUB-TYPE as CM12. Exemptions to zoning requests, such as reduced number of guest rooms, only seem to be reported on the yearly reports but no exemptions have been recorded after 2011. Monthly reports will show the most recent and up to date zoning applications.
Monte Rio currently has 70+ permitted single family residence Vacation Rental for up to 536 overnight guests. There are also quite a few un permitted and/or noncompliant Vacation Rentals, some of which can be found on the VRBO website. Since no addresses or zoning permit numbers are given on vacation rental websites, it can be difficult for PRMD to determine if they are legally zoned or not. However, VRBO is making it easier for residents to prove to the PRMD that neighboring homes are operating illegally. Good luck trying to get them to consistently take action.
- You can search for Vacation Rental zoning permits on the PRMD website to check for permit number,current status, occupancy allowance, exceptions to allowances and 24/7 complaints phone number. UPDATE: The un-permitted vacation rental that I have been dealing with for 2 years now has several different addresses making it more difficult to accurately find permit history. What hasn't changes is the APN/lot number. For most accurate information find the lot number for the address you have a problem with. If there is no address visible start with your address to find the correct parcel map.
Some might be paying the Sonoma County TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) but still not be legally permitted.
From the Sonoma County TOT page: "TOT funds are discretionary, in that the Board of Supervisors may direct use of these funds for any legitimate county expense. The tax code does not require any specific use of the Transient Occupancy Tax (T.O.T.) Funds.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has established a policy that the funds raised from this tax will be used, in part, to finance advertising and promotional activities in Sonoma County."
The above 2 photos show the condition of the entry to River Blvd, which leads to 15 permitted vacation rentals.
This photo show the entry point to the only road that leads to a campground that services THOUSANDS of visitors but 1% property owners are not currently required to pay the Transient Occupancy Tax.
VACATION RENTAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
Permitted Vacation Rentals are expected to meet minimum performance standards.
The following Performance Standards are from municode.com and are presumably the most accurate. My comments are in red. The complete section code is here as a 137k pdf file.
The county's definition of a bedroom is here.
SECTION II. Chapter 26 of the Sonoma County Code (the Zoning Ordinance)
26-88-120. Vacation Rentals.
1. Maximum Number of Guestrooms. Vacation rentals may have a maximum of five (5) guestrooms or sleeping rooms. Vacation rentals with more than five (5) guestrooms or sleeping rooms may only be allowed if adequate sewage disposal capacity exists and neighborhood compatibility can be demonstrated, subject to the granting of a use permit.
2. Maximum Overnight Occupancy. Maximum overnight occupancy for vacation rentals shall be up to a maximum of two (2) persons per sleeping room or guestroom, plus two (2) additional persons per property, up to a maximum of twelve (12) persons, excluding children under three (3) years of age. For homes on a conditional septic system, the maximum overnight occupancy for vacation rentals shall be equal to the design load of the septic system. Vacation rentals with larger overnight occupancies may only be allowed subject to the granting of a use permit.
3. Maximum Number of Guests and Visitors. The maximum number of total guests and visitors allowed at any time in a single vacation rental shall not exceed the maximum overnight occupancy plus six (6) additional persons per property, or eighteen (18) persons, whichever is less, excluding children under three (3) years of age. Vacation rentals with larger numbers of guests and visitors may only be allowed subject to the granting of a use permit. Notwithstanding, maximum guest limits may be exceeded on the following national holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas, so long as the holiday event does not otherwise trigger the requirement for a special or cultural events permit.
4. Per Parcel Limit on Number of Residences or Structures. Only a single residence, and legally established guest house meeting current standards shall be used as a vacation rental. Only one (1) tenant shall be allowed on-site at any given time: second residences or accessory structures shall not be leased, subleased, rented or sub-rented separately from the main dwelling. Parcels containing multiple residences or habitable structures may only be used as vacation rentals subject to the granting of a use permit, except that two (2) residences or structures may be used when the total number of guestrooms does not exceed five (5.) Tents, yurts and RVs are not allowed as a part of a vacation rental.
5. Required On-Site Parking. Parking shall be provided as set forth in 26-90: one (1) on-site parking space for a vacation rental with up to two (2) guestrooms or sleeping rooms; two (2) on-site parking spaces for a three (3) or four (4) guestroom vacation rental. Larger vacation rentals must demonstrate adequate parking with a minimum of three (3) spaces. On-street parking may be considered.
Vacation rental car parked blocking 1/3 of the single lane road and emergency vehicle access.
6. Noise Limits. All activities associated with the vacation rental shall meet the general plan noise standards contained below. Quiet hours shall be from 10:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
7. Amplified Sound. Outdoor amplified sound shall not be allowed at any time associated with a vacation rental unless specifically permitted by a cultural or special event permit, or use permit.
8. Cultural or Special Events. Occasional special events, parties, weddings or other similar activities over the maximum daytime occupancy (indoors or outdoors) may be permitted only with a cultural or special event zoning permit up to four (4) times per year for a maximum one (1) year, or by use permit, except in the RR (Rural Residential) and R1 (Urban Residential) zoning districts where special events, outdoor events, lawn parties, weddings or similar activities associated with a vacation rental are not allowed at any time.
9. Pets. Pets shall be secured on the property at all times. Continual nuisance barking by unattended pets is prohibited.
10. Trash and Recycling Facilities. Recycling and refuse storage bins shall not be stored within public view unless in compliance with neighborhood standards.
Vacation rental garbage left off property site
and on view 24/7
Vacation Rental Garbage on Monte Rio Ave.
It eventually gets washed into our watersheds.
11. Septic Systems and Sewer Connections. The owner shall maintain a properly functioning septic system or sewer connection. In some cases, a per-room sewer fee may be applied.
12. Transient Occupancy Tax. The vacation rental owner or authorized agent shall maintain a transient occupancy tax license and remain current on all required reports and payments. Owner or authorized agent shall include the license number on all contracts or rental agreements, and in any advertising or websites.
13. Designated Representative. Applicant shall provide a current 24-hour working phone number of the property owner, property manager or other designated representative to all neighbors within a one hundred-foot radius of the subject property boundaries, and to the county permit and resource management department, and any change shall also be reported and noticed to neighbors within thirty (30) days. Said property owner or designated representative must be available during the rental period within a one-hour drive of the subject property.
14. Emergency Access. Any vacation rental located behind a locked gate or within a gated community shall provide gate code or a lockbox with keys ("Knox Box" or similar) for exclusive use by the sheriff and emergency or fire services departments.
15. Posting of Standards. The owner shall post these standards in a prominent place within the vacation rental and include them as part of all rental agreements. All advertising handouts, flyers, or any other information provided for vacation rentals shall conform to the approved occupancy limits and standards as stated on the vacation rental permit. Advertising may only be conducted for properties operating under a valid permit.
(g) Enforcement Process.
1. Initial complaints on vacation rentals shall be directed to the contact person identified in the zoning permit or use permit, as applicable. If the issue reoccurs, the complaint will be addressed by PRMD code enforcement section who shall conduct an investigation to determine whether there was a violation of a zoning or use permit condition. Code enforcement may accept neighbor documentation consisting of photos, sound recordings and video to support proof of a violation. If code enforcement verifies that a zoning or use permit condition violation has occurred, a notice of violation shall be issued and a penalty may be imposed in accordance with Chapter 1 of the Sonoma County Code.
At the discretion of the code enforcement officer, the zoning permit or use permit may be scheduled for a revocation hearing with the board of zoning adjustments. If the permit is revoked, a zoning or use permit for a vacation rental may not be reapplied for or issued for a period of at least one (1) year.
2. An annual fee may be adopted by the board of supervisors and collected by PRMD or the county tax collector to pay for monitoring and enforcement of vacation rentals.
As per Sonoma County document CDE-013, "The Vacation Rental Ordinance does not regulate off-site impacts, such as street parking, speeding, or the conduct of renters when off of the property".
The main Sonoma County web page for Vacation Rentals is here.
SMOKING GUNS IN MONTE RIO:
River Blvd - 4 twin beds in one room
20030 River Blvd, Camp Como -
permitted for 2 guestrooms, 4 max overnight. Advertising 5 guestrooms, sleeping 10, courtesy of Russian River Getaways.
Monte Cristo Ave, River Queen - 7 bedrooms that sleep 20! Snippets from a visitor review: "A group of 15 adults stayed here for a week. The bedroom/bathroom situation was not good. For 4 of the bedrooms you have to walk through one bedroom where a couple is sleeping to get to another bedroom."
and "The septic system seems to not be able to handle multiple showers and toilet use and back ups which caused the bathroom sink to clog along with water from one toilet leaking and soaking the floor." Courtesy of Russian River Getaways.
20591 Park Ave - AKA 20591 Monte Rio Ave, 20590 Monte Rio & 20592 Monte Rio - Currently (4/16/15) applying for vacation rental permit after operating without a permit since 2013. Violation letter send 8/21/14 PRMD never made them stop advertising. House was on the market as a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 kitchen, single family residence with a bonus downstairs area in 2012. Somehow got designated a duplex, 10/13/14. Advertises that it sleeps 8. Garbage cans left out 24/7. Did an illegal and unprofessional excavation in bottom side of a steep hill to create a parking space that only allows 9.5 ft for emergency vehicle clearance, IF they jam in tight. Created what they call a two car space, but regularly jam in 3 cars, in front of their neighbor's property on the top side of the hill that is partially supported by 2 small bay trees. Located on a narrow, single lane, two-way, un-maintained county road with barely adequate parking for other homes. Of course, the visitors there leave no parking for other residents. When confronted about visitors trespassing on neighboring properties the owner made it clear that she felt it was the property owner's responsibility to post signs and put up fences. Personally, I wish people would I assume property is private unless it's posted as a public park.
This photo shows a portion
of Monte Rio Ave leading to a property that is currently requesting Vacation Rental use permit for 8 overnight and 14 daytime visitors. On March 25 there was a fire on this road where the fire truck's outer wheels went off the road and almost plunged down the hillside.
SUMMARY OF SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENTS
THE VACATION RENTAL ORDINANCE & STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE
A. Require that a healthy portion of TOT funds collected be earmarked for going into the same local community's infrastructure where the taxes are collected.
B. Do not allow vacation rental zoning permits
to any property which are located on un-maintained single lane roads where increased traffic will impact already poor road conditions, air quality and limited resident parking.
C. Put a limit on number of permits allowed so there is still some affordable rental housing and a real community can be maintained. No more than 10%?
D. Correct documents on the county website so they are consistent with the facts and each other.
E. What about insurance? Will their home owner policies cover damages caused by or to vacation renters? Would evidence of coverage be a good idea?
F. Require a zoning permit before the TOT license? Require
individual TOT number per property.
AND SPECIFICALLY TO THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS - numbered below as per the municipal code
1. Verify that the number of guestrooms are true to the original plan of the structure and not allow artificial inflation of number of guestrooms. Indications of artificial inflation of number of rooms should include remodels of attics and addition of partitions that require passing through a guestroom to access another guestroom.
2. Do not allow the plus 2 overnight occupancy rule automatically.
3. Do not allow the Plus 6 visitors to the property automatically.
4. Provide a more thorough investigation when single family residences are requesting an official change to multiple family residences to legal non-conforming duplexes. It's easy enough to check online if a property recently sold as a 2 bedroom Single Family Residence with 1 bedroom, 1 bath but is being presented as a bogus grandfathered 2nd unit.
5. Strike On-street parking may be considered from the standard and increase number of on-site parking space requirements. Verify that the stated On-site parking is actually on the property.
6. Don't allow any exterior noise after sunset if neighbors are disturbed.
9. Revise the Pet Standard to read: Pets shall be secured on the property at all times by a leash or kennel run if the property is unfenced. When off the vacation property, pet owners must abide by the leash law and pet waste pick up law, even in rustic or rural areas. Continual nuisance barking by unattended pets is prohibited.
10. Strike unless in compliance with neighborhood standards from the Trash & Recycling Facilities standard.
11. Require mandatory septic inspections of all vacation rentals
to assure that the system can handle the daily load of allowed total guests, children and daytime visitors.
12. Require that the zoning permit number also be
required on any advertising.
13. Change Designated Representative standard to read:
Designated Representative & Complaints. Applicant shall provide a current 24-hour working phone number of the property owner, property manager or other designated representative to all neighbors within a one hundred-foot radius of the subject property boundaries, and to the county permit and resource management department, and any change shall also be reported and noticed to neighbors within thirty (30) days. Said property owner or designated representative must be able to respond, 24/7, on-site, within 1 hour.
>>. Insert a performance standard before 15. Posting of Standards which explains to renters that surrounding undeveloped properties are to be respected according to the law as Private Property and are not to be trespassed upon by them or their pets, unless otherwise indicated with signage as a public park.
PJR-096.pdf - This is the summary of regulations
provided with the required Supplemental Application and Affidavit forms for people applying for Vacation Rental Zoning Permits. It's missing six of the fifteen Performance Standards: Numbers, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15. It includes a standard that isn't mentioned in the zoning ordinance which is labeled 'Technical Codes'. Number 13 states that the emergency contact can respond on-site to issues or complaints within an hour.
Performance_Standards.pdf - This informational document is also missing six of the fifteen Performance Standards: Numbers, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15. It also includes a standard that isn't mentioned in the zoning ordinance which is labeled 'Technical Codes'. Number 13 misstates that the emergency contact must reside within 30 miles of the vacation property.
vacation-rentals-final-ordinance.pdf - This document is the most complete and accurate but the Standards are miss-numbered and there is at least one spelling error. Number 13, per the actual code, states Said property owner or designated representative must be available during the rental period within a one-hour drive of the subject property.
||CA Water Board - website
Russian River Tributarieswebpage.
Russian River Water Quality Report - pdf
Thursday, November 19, 2015, 8:30am
Is your property near a nutrient or pathogen impaired water body? Click HERE.
ALERT: Proposed Septic System Changes for the Lower Russian River
From the Friends of Villa Grande
We are sending this email to all members of the Friends of Villa Grande in order to alert you to proposed regulatory changes that have significant impact on every septic system in our area.
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (WQCB) is proposing a change to its Basin Plan that affects all properties in our area. They provide only three options for existing septic systems located in a designated high priority area. The options have arisen out of a study that has attempted to define the total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants that can be allowed to enter the Russian River without causing degradation of the water quality. Monte Rio and Villa Grande are considered a high priority area.
A brief summary of the three options is:
Option 1: Install supplemental treatment on your septic system to reduce bacteria in the wastewater. Homeowners in the Hacienda area testified at a public meeting that they have received estimates of $19,000 to $45,000 to do this. This option also requires monthly monitoring of the septic system by the property owner and quarterly monitoring by a "service provider".
Option 2: Connect to a sewer system within 10 years of adoption of the regulations.
Option 3: Permitting of the septic system under a Local Agency Management Program (LAMP). The specifications for what constitutes a LAMP and who will run it are vague and it is difficult to assess the costs and regulatory impacts associated with this option. Annual inspections of the septic system are still mandated.
Although we applaud the efforts of the WQCB to clean up the river, we feel that the regulations proposed for septic systems are overly restrictive and not supported by the findings of the TMDL study.
A full copy of the proposed Basin Plan amendment is available HERE.
Written comments are due by 5pm, Oct. 8, 2015 and can be sent via email. There is a public hearing on Nov. 19 at 8:30 a.m.at the North Coast Water Board offices. A link to this notice is HERE.
We have drafted a sample letter (below) for you to cut & paste, or as a guide to create and send your own letter to: NorthCoast@waterboards.ca.gov NOTE: if emailed, letters must be in a PDF format.
Time is of the essence to respond to this draft amendment. Please contact Charles Reed at the Water Board if you have any questions or concerns.
With Best wishes,
Rich Holmer & Kyla Brooke, Estuary Committee, Friends of Villa Grande
SAMPLE LETTER: FEEL FREE TO MAKE REVISIONS
October 5, 2015
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Attn: Charles Reed
sent via email NorthCoast@waterboards.ca.gov
Dear Mr. Reed:
Subject: Proposed Basin Plan Amendment for the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load
I am a property owner (resident) of property potentially located in a high priority area for onsite wastewater disposal systems as designated in the proposed Basin Plan amendment.
The options proposed for existing onsite wastewater disposal systems in the Basin Plan amendment are unnecessarily burdensome, poorly substantiated by the study and not a cost effective solution for reduction of bacterial load on the Russian Riverfrom onsite septic systems.
The TMDL study did not adequately identify bacterial pollution from properly functioning septic systems versus failing or inadequately constructed septic systems. It is inappropriate to propose a broad-brush condemnation of all septic systems in the high priority areas when a significant number of the systems are modern, fully functioning systems. There should be a detailed examination of which septic systems are contributing to the bacterial pollution of the river and your efforts should be focused onto those systems.
In addition, there needs to be adequate financial support in the form of grants, tax credits and government support to individual property owners for the three options proposed. The outline of funding sources in the document is vague. Mostfunding sources mentioned in the staff report are only available to public entities and most are in the form of loans. Property owners in the lower river area cannot afford to pay back loans for the extremely expensive septic system upgrades that are proposed. We need to have a program that allows individual property owners to obtain direct financial support (not in the form of a loan) for septic system upgrades. Without this, there will be severe financial hardships that will result in difficulties in compliance with the standards.
Additionally, a tiered approach to septic system compliance as outlined in the AB885 statewide standards for septic systems is a more reasonable solution and will mitigate unnecessary financial impacts to owners of compliant septic systems.
Overall, it appears that there is a rush to adopt and implement a plan that has potentially severe ramifications, and which may not lead to the desired outcome. Please consider removing the TMDL from the November meeting calendar and engage further with the communities and the County to develop a TMDL that we all can support.I look forward to seeing a reasonable, effective and affordable plan for reduction of pathogens in the Russian River.
Note from MRC: I found this information on the public notice:
(different email address, no mention of pdf requirement, 5pm Cut off time for written comments on Oct 8. Please consider covering all bases!)
Persons wishing to comment on the draft Basin Plan Amendment, draft SED, and draft staff report for the Regional Water Board to consider, are invited to submit them in writing. To be evaluated and responded to by the Regional Water Board, and fully considered in advance of the hearing, all written comments and evidence must be received by the Regional Water Board no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 8, 2015. Untimely submittal of written comments will not be accepted or responded to.
Please send comments to the attention of Charles Reed at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to the mailing address below or electronically to the email address Charles.Reed@waterboards.ca.gov, or by fax to 707-523-0135.
California Regional Water Quality Control Board North Coast Region
ATTN: Charles Reed
5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A
Santa Rosa, California 95403