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Santa Rosa moves to regulate short term rental properties
photo credit: (Credit: Tim Suh)
The wild west days for vacation rentals in Santa Rosa should be winding down.
  
Following a marathon session late Tuesday, the city council adopted an emergency ordinance to regulate short term rentals.
  
The regulations cover the number of rooms that can be rented out on a nightly basis, the size of the home and distinctions between rentals with and without a host, among others.
 
Just under 200 dwellings are registered, permitted and paying fees to the city. An official search found another one hundred sixty one operating illegally.
 
While online platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO can help property owners get more cash, people who book getaways aren't always on their best behavior, a point made loud and clear by Rincon resident Julia Adams. "It is outrageous that these people can come into our neighborhoods and treat them like hotels. But it's worse than that because, if this were a hotel, and they were acting the way that they act, the hotel would kick them out. And that's not what happens. One of my favorite evenings, was, the police came and knocked on the door around midnight. And five minutes later, they turned on "Please Don't Stop the Music" as loud as they possibly could and they were screaming it at the top of their lungs."
 
And many say the lure of quick cash---the average nightly rate in Santa Rosa is $225---is upending local housing prices, something not lost on elected leaders.
  
Councilmember Jack Tibbets opined, "My thing is that either you're a landlord offering long term rentals in this city, which are needed or you're a hotelier, frankly, circumventing our land use. If you have enough money to own two vacation rentals, one of those should probably be in the long term housing market, that's not somebody of limited means."
 
The timeline is unclear, but Santa Rosa officials vow to create more comprehensive and permanent regulations in the months ahead.
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