San Rafael adopts 3-strike policy for vacation rentals

The San Rafael City Council has adopted an ordinance regulating online vacation rentals, establishing a three-strike policy for problematic rentals.

The City Council voted unanimously on Monday to pass the ordinance on the first reading, establishing rules for an industry that was previously unregulated in San Rafael.

The ordinance will require rental hosts to register with the city, which includes a $170 fee, and renew their registration annually for $135. For registration to be accepted, a host must prove the rental home is the primary residence and provide the city with their contact information.

Hosts must also show proof that they’ve posted information inside the rentals about the city’s noise control laws, the proper garbage disposal protocol and how to park on the site without blocking neighbors’ access to shared driveways.

Homeowners must begin paying hotel taxes to the city, which, coupled with the registration fees, is expected to generate enough revenue to pay for an outside firm to monitor San Rafael’s vacation rental market.

Host Compliance, a Seattle-based company that contracts with municipalities to help regulate the online vacation rental industry, will charge the city an estimated $24,000 annually. Its services include operating a 24-hour hotline for complaints and monitoring whether hosts are complying with the city’s regulations.

According to city staff, there are 270 active vacation rentals in San Rafael listed on various websites. The rentals have drawn the ire of some residents who live near them, some of whom have implored city officials to ban or regulate the industry.

“Neighborhoods are for neighbors, not strangers coming up and down the small, windy roads we have, not familiar with their surroundings and disrupting our privacy,” resident Linda Kruger told the council.

Sean and Cambria Terheyden, who are Kruger’s neighbors, rent a spare bedroom in their house and a granny flat on their property to short-term guests through Airbnb, they told city officials in a letter. Kruger has repeatedly complained to city staff that guests staying at the Terheydens’ rentals have infringed on her privacy when using the shared driveway that serves both of their houses.

In a letter to officials, she complained about guests generating additional “noise, car and human traffic, parties, garbage disposal, car headlights and horns.”

Sean Terheyden, on the other hand, said Kruger and her husband, Charlie Comella, have “engaged in what can only be described as a relentless campaign of bullying, harassment and intimidation.” The couple, he alleges in his letter, has snapped

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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