Sacramento may not be a top resort destination, but that doesn’t mean owners of spare rooms and occasionally vacant houses haven’t discovered the wonders of Airbnb.
From $20-a-night spare beds downtown to four-bedroom ranch houses for $350 a night along the American River, a quick online search demonstrates that Sacramento has its share of alternatives to the standard hotel stay. But the sharing economy has generated qualms about the potential for abuse by absentee property owners who, in other cities, have turned whole homes and apartment buildings into bootleg bed-and-breakfasts and wrecked the peace and integrity of communities.
On Tuesday, after more than a year of study and fine-tuning, a proposed ordinance will go to the Sacramento City Council, seeking to regulate short-term rentals here before they become a nuisance. We think it strikes a good balance, addressing concerns without strangling a popular but fledgling business model before it gets off the ground.
The latest iteration would limit short-term hosts to six guests at a time, and require people renting to them to follow the same rules as hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, including obtaining a business operations tax certificate and collecting the 12 percent transient occupancy tax mandated by the city. (They could do the collecting themselves, or have Airbnb do it.)
They also would have to pay a nominal price for a short-term rental permit that the city could tighten or revoke in the event of a violation. And once it’s issued, the city would notify neighboring property owners within 200 feet.
On Tuesday, after more than a year of study and fine-tuning, a proposed ordinance will go to the Sacramento City Council, seeking to regulate short-term rentals here before they become a nuisance.
People renting property that isn’t their primary residence would have to pay $3,000 for a conditional-use permit, as would anyone who rents more than a maximum number of nights per year. The council’s law and legislation committee recommends a 90-night aggregate limit on rentals, while the planning and design commission thinks the city should cap it at 120 nights.
All in all, however, this seems a good middle ground. Established hotels make an important contribution to the local tax base, but with only about 200 Airbnb hosts operating here at the moment, it’s unlikely they’ll feel much competition. And small businesses and restaurants would benefit where home sharing is most popular – Land Park, midtown, East Sacramento.
Obviously, the council will want to revisit any new ordinance in a year or so to make sure it’s working. But this could be a welcome expansion of Sacramento’s welcome mat.