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Sacramento leaders consider limits on Airbnb, other home-rental services

The interior of Megan Fidell’s home in midtown Sacramento. Fidell is a homeowner who rents her home to strangers via Airbnb.com while she leaves town to visit relatives or go camping.
The interior of Megan Fidell’s home in midtown Sacramento. Fidell is a homeowner who rents her home to strangers via Airbnb.com while she leaves town to visit relatives or go camping. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Sacramento leaders will revisit regulations Tuesday on homeowners who rent out their abodes on a short-term basis through popular online services such as Airbnb.

Under the latest proposal, people who provide short-term rentals would have to limit offerings to two rooms and four guests, as well as remain on-site during the wee hours, to avoid paying a nearly $3,000 permit fee and undergoing an extensive review process. The city’s revenue staff also recommends that Sacramento collect its 12 percent Transient Occupancy Tax on such stays.

The city’s Law and Legislation Committee will consider the proposed ordinance Tuesday afternoon. If the proposal moves on to Planning and Design Commission, it eventually would have to be approved by the full Sacramento City Council.

Back in May, the committee reviewed changes to Sacramento’s requirements for short-term rentals. But Joy Patterson, the city’s principal planner, said Monday that the committee wanted more community input before moving forward.

Community meetings were held in August and September. On one side, home-sharing advocates such as San Francisco-based Airbnb touted the economic advantages of local residents temporarily renting homes to visitors who would likely spend money in the Sacramento area.

Opposition came from neighbors of home-rental operators. Critics complained of noise, parking problems and strangers wandering around their neighborhoods at all hours. Some critics said that home-sharing operations should be subject to the same conditions and fees of traditional bed-and-breakfast operations.

On Tuesday, the city’s Law and Legislation Committee will see a staff report based in part on feedback provided at the public meetings. It recommends passing an ordinance that specifically adds “short-term homestay rental” to the list of permitted home occupations, subject to four conditions.

The conditions are: a maximum of two guest rooms and four guests at any one time; use strictly for temporary lodging and may include meals for guests; no events permitted in conjunction with short-term rentals; and the resident-operator is required to be on-site between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. when guests are present.

Under the proposal, anyone meeting the requirements is permitted to operate a “short-term homestay rental” from their home. If they cannot meet the requirements, they need a conditional use permit from the zoning administrator. The current one-time cost of a CUP is $2,943. A CUP requires an application, fees, notice to neighboring property owners and a public hearing.

That CUP is a particular concern to Airbnb, whose Sacramento online site includes scores of prospective home sharers.

“Home sharing allows people to turn what is typically one of their greatest expenses into a tool to help make ends meet. Most of our hosts are people who share their homes to pay the bills,” said Airbnb spokeswoman Alison Schumer. “We look forward to continue working with the city of Sacramento to develop a common sense proposal with rules that are clear and enforceable.”

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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