H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Oct 10, 2013 8:27 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

City of SLO upholds ordinance that bans residents from renting out rooms for less than 30 days

The city of San Luis Obispo says its residents cannot rent out rooms or space in their home for a time period of less than 30-days. On Wednesday, the city's Planning Commission voted 5-1 to uphold the current ordinance that bans vacation rentals, and denied resident Sky Bergman's appeal of the ordinance.

Bergman said she is disappointed, but not surprised. She said if it weren't for her push and tenacity, the issue may not have gone so far. On November 12th, the city council is expected to take up the issue, as the Community Development department has been ordered to conduct a study session and will return its findings of pros and cons to council.

Bergman said she wants to be able to rent out a room in her house to make extra income. She said it would also be nice to be an ambassador to the city.

But, Doug Davidson, the Deputy Director for the Community Development Department, said there can be pros and cons to short-term rentals.

"The vacation rentals have never been allowed in the city. But prior to 2007 the ordinance was silent on them, in 2007 they were expressly prohibited until such time that an ordinance was adopted. The concerns are often neighborhood driven, about traffic and noise and other impacts that these type of uses could cause," said Davidson.

Davidson also noted that websites like www.airbnb.com, which have made short-term rental opportunities popular, don't charge a bed tax, which means those solicitors can have a leg up on local hotel rooms. Local hotel rooms charge a TOT (transient occupancy tax) which generate money for the local economy. However, residents who want short term rentals allowed said they are willing to pay the same taxes and fees that hotels do.

But, Davidson said the pros of short-term rentals are that people can experience San Luis Obispo in a different way when they stay in an cozy environment like someone's home.

The Community Development department urges residents on both sides of the matter to come to the city council on November 12 to have an open discussion.

People caught breaking the rules on short-term rentals can face up to $500 in fines.

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