Letter to send to your elected Humboldt Supervisor to support Vacation Rentals getting permitted

Email letters to:

Supervisor Bohn: rbohn@co.humboldt.ca.us

Supervisor Fennel (chariperson): efennell@co.humboldt.ca.us

Supervisor Lovelace; mlovelace@co.humboldt.ca.us

Supervisor Bass: vbass@co.humboldt.ca.us

Supervisor Sundberg: rsundberg@co.humboldt.ca.us

Planning Director Hamblin: khamblin@co.humboldt.ca.us

Planning Development Manager Santos: ssantos@co.humboldt.ca.us

Or mail to:

Supervisor Name

825 5th Street, Room 111
Eureka, CA 95501

Planner Name

3015 H St.
Eureka, CA 95501

Dear Humboldt Supervisors and Planners,

As members of the short term rentals community from unincorporated areas of Humboldt, we ask that a user-friendly vacation rental permitting process be generated soon. We understand that a few Humboldt vacation rental owners were recently selected to receive letters requiring that they obtain individual, hugely expensive “V-overlay” re-zone classification,as a prerequisite to seeking a permit, or to cease operations within 30 days. We are anxiously aware that our own properties could be next.

We hope the County will see the good in streamlining their request, so that a $4500, parcel-by-parcel “V-rezoning”requirement is not the initial obstacle that shuts many out of a permitting process. We believe that Humboldt property owners in any residential or similar zone should have the same, equal ability to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to vacation rent their homes.

A straightforward, Conditional Use application process could substantially increase the 1.3 million a year of Transient Occupancy Tax/Bed Tax, from unincorporated area vacation rentals, that the county currently collects, because a user-friendly process will encourage more owners to apply for permits and to pay TOT. On the other hand, a burdensome, $4500 rezoning hurdle plus a muddy, arbitrary permitting process would push some owners away from complying, much to the detriment of Humboldt’s TOT-fed General Fund.

Nationwide, demand for vacation rentals is rising. At an average estimated daily spend rate of $142 per Humboldt vacationer, more vacation renters equals more prosperity for every local business. Why drive the market-driven trend of vacation renting underground through selective enforcement and huge, arbitrary fees? Instead let’s create a smart permitting process that channels this trend towards economic benefits for all residents, as we proudly share Humboldt’s beauty with the world.

Although surveys show wide support for vacation rentals, we are of course aware that some concerned neighbors voice uneasiness about having vacation rentals nearby. The lack of common, county-wide performance standards, which Conditional Use permits set forth, surely exacerbate this unease.  Neighbor satisfaction would be greatly increased through a county-wide Conditional Use permitting process to cement clear performance standards that address neighbor concerns. When Positive ‘conditions’ are set in place, like reasonable quiet hours, adequate parking, weekly trash pick- up, and a close contact person responsive  to any problems, then a functional  system where vacation rentals coexist  harmoniously with neighbors canbe the norm.

Concerns about the safety of vacation rentals would also be addressed, since Conditional use permit processes include safety and building inspections.

One of the recent letter-receiving owners also vacation rents in Ferndale. She describes hosting the local building and fire inspectors, who helped her to mount her fire extinguishers according to code among other safety measures, to satisfy that city’s own, well-established and well-complied with  Conditional Use permitting process.

Of course, we also support compliance with existing laws and ordinances meant to ensure that residents and their guests all behave as good citizens and neighbors.

Vacation rentals offer unique, more affordable, more family-friendly options to visitors who might otherwise shorten their stays or drive on elsewhere. They also provide supplementary income to home owners to help them keep (and keep up) their properties, which might otherwise mostly sit empty, since it’s well known that many owners  fear long-term renting in Humboldt due to the extra risks of property damage from indoor ‘growers’ here. Vacation rental owners use their own resources to advertise our Humboldt destination, attracting tourism for the good of the county as a whole, and also strive to continually beautify their homes, which raises neighborhood pride and property values too. Please keep in mind the many local benefits and great economic potential of short-stay rentals as you begin working towards a viable permitting system.

If our extremely busy county government lacks the time resources to get a straightforward system up and running soon, we suggest that this task be outsourced to a consulting firm that contracts with counties, such as Vacation Rental Compliance, out of Rancho Mirage, CA. The hiring of such a company, with a record of increasing TOT while ameliorating problems, should be funded by the 1.3 million in Bed Tax that we unincorporated vacation rental owners will pay this year. Because even though we’ve all lacked a permit, all of this time, and have been granted no viable path forward towards becoming officially permitted, the county has, quite officially, taken our vacation rentals TOT, to the tune of  almost 4 million dollars in 3 years.  Having paid that, we feel that a reasonable, user-friendly process to now apply for permits, rather than anxiously awaiting our own “30 days to cease” letter, should be our right. We urge you to create or outsource the creation of an efficient, non-burdensome process for vacation rentals permitting without further delay. Our vacation rental homes are our labors of love. Please embrace the vibrant support they offer our county, and facilitate a permit process.

Respectfully,

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