Owners of vacation rentals will need to obtain a permit and pay a fee in order to rent to tourists, but that doesn’t mean they will.
The Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, March 11, and unanimously approved a resolution to establish fees for short-term vacation rentals in the county after the public hearing on the issue.
“These fees were based upon staff time to prepare the initial permit and the renewal,” said Darcy Goulart, a planner III with the county’s Planning Department. “That (cost) is significantly less than what our initial projections were for this permit.”
The issue first arose in April of last year, when the board adopted a Lake Tulloch Short-Term Vacation Rentals ordinance, which requires a use permit for vacation rentals. During that time, discussion included the cost of fees associated with obtaining the permit.
Initially, it was proposed that the cost should follow the existing fee of $2,033 for an administrative use permit, but that amount was deemed too expensive by the board.
The Planning Department, which established the fee as a cost recovery mechanism for staff time, revisited the ordinance and eliminated the requirement for on-site inspection from the ordinance by asking applicants to bring in floor plans and site maps to the department for verification.
“Staff reviewed the vacation rental ordinance and prepared a list of the necessary tasks that would be performed by the department to process a permit request from submittal to final determination,” Goulart’s report said. “It is estimated that it will take approximately seven staff hours at cost of $429 to process the initial AUP.”
The annual cost to renew a permit would be $217, based on three staff hours.
The resolution’s passage was good news for some but not all.
“This is sensible land-use policy,” said Jack Cox, a homeowner from Lake Tulloch who’s been upset by the number of unregulated rentals around him, including the noise levels. “(Rentals) bring people in for (a few) days who are basically there to party and there are people who live there. So it’s a complete disharmony of world view.”
Others, however, saw it as more government over-reach.
“We appreciate lowering fees, that’s a good thing,” said Al Segalla, president of the Calaveras County Taxpayers Association. “But this is just another level of bureaucracy.”
For District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, the ordinance is forcing the county to do what others should be doing instead.
“I think the county is becoming the scapegoat for things that should be done by the homeowners associations,” said Callaway, who supported the fees but not the original legislation. “I think it’s a bad path that we’re going down. I think the cost of enforcement is going to be significant.”
Many private vacation rentals can be found online, outside the purview of regulators.
“There’s no fee associated with possible enforcement?” asked District 4 Supervisor Debbie Ponte.
The fee will only cover the application process, and it remains to be seen what happens after that.
The resolution establishing fees takes effect 60 days from its passage.
In other news:
The board gave unanimous approval to lower the speed limit on Black Oak Drive in Arnold to 25 mph.
Speed limits on Mountain Ranch Road are also being lowered after the board approved five different areas that need the speed lowered, based on a traffic study conducted by the Calaveras County Public Works Depart-ment. New speed limits range from 40 to 50 mph.
The board approved a maintenance agreement between Calaveras County and Caltrans for maintenance work that will be required for Phase 1 of the Jenny Lind Safe Routes to School Project.
The Board of Supervisors next meeting will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, at Government Center in San Andreas.