Apr 23, 2020
By Cathryn Tait, Armstrong Valley, Guerneville
Tired of the noise, backyard pool parties, loud music, and continual nuisance from vacation rentals in your neighborhood?
If it “takes a village” to raise a child, it will take many residents of neighborhoods to raise awareness for the need to protect our communities from the onslaught of the proliferation of vacation rentals in Guerneville.
There are hundreds of vacation rentals located up and down the Russian River corridor of our resort town, and beyond, now worming their ways into the once quiet neighborhoods of working families and retirees.
Check out any website online from VRBO to HomeAway, to all of our local Vacation Rental management companies in town, and you will be amazed at the sheer number of these “mini hotels” multiplying by the day.
While these rentals may be good for tourism and boosting the economy of Guerneville, they have a negative impact when located in our residential neighborhoods. Besides contributing to the lack of affordable housing in the community, they exhaust the diminished rental stock for year-round residents. They add noise, public nuisance, and increased traffic.
But most of all, they change the social character of neighborhoods where neighbors used to know each other.
Most of the owners of these short-term rentals live outside the area and are not part of the community.
This is especially true for Armstrong Valley residents, in Guerneville, where this scourge and inundation of vacation rentals have compromised the integrity and quality of our once peaceful and tranquil neighborhood. In this small valley, where noise from the vacation rentals literally reverberates “off the walls” of the surrounding hills, there is little to be done about enforcement of peace and quiet.
Last year, Sonoma County collected $12.5million in T.O.T. (transient occupancy taxes), $5 million of which was contributed by vacation rentals alone. This revenue is important to the county and they reinvest 75% of it to further promote tourism. So, in reality, one can easily understand that vacation rentals are here to stay.
But, in order to seek a balance between the economic concerns of the county, and the ongoing complaints heard from the residents of the neighborhoods, the county is “leveling the playing field” with residents in adopting an Exclusion Zone from Vacation Rentals, to be applied in certain areas via an application process.
Exclusion Zones have already been adopted in 8 other residential areas surrounding Healdsburg and Sonoma.
On January 4, 2017, many residents of Armstrong Valley came together at a neighborhood meeting at the Guerneville Library to discuss the possibility of applying for this “Exclusion Combining District Zone” (adopted by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on May 24, 2016). It was a good turnout, with lots of interested neighbors.
If such a zone is established, it becomes permanent and prohibits any future permits issued for properties to operate as vacation rentals. Existing short term rentals are grandfathered in and remain operating until the property is sold. (refer: http://www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/docs/vacrent/index.htm )
I urge all residents of Armstrong Valley to take action to protect and maintain our residential community and apply for this Exclusion Zone.
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