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A day after Santa Rosa's city council flirted with evicting controversial vacation rentals from residential neighborhoods, their Windsor counterparts took the plunge. 

Sonoma County's vacation rental saga reached something of a resolution, at least in Windsor Wednesday night. That's where, taking a fourth bite at the apple, town councilors finally adopted rules regulating them.

The vote came after lengthy debate and attempts to find compromise between operators of a profitable cottage industry and others saying the proliferation of short term rentals is disrupting their lives and neighborhoods.

The gulf left vice mayor Sam Salmon exasperated.

"I'm not trying to make my case here, if that's what you think, I see you shaking your heads. Whatever decision we come up with, it's going to be wrong for somebody."

Among the approved regulations---non-hosted vacation rentals are prohibited from residential zones, but not immediately. Current operators with business licenses have until July of 2025 to wind down.

Hosted short term rentals may be rented out up to 60 nights a year. Corporations and limited liability companies are barred entirely. Vacation rentals will also have a two night minimum, and limits were added on the number of guests and number of guests per-room. Guests must also be age twenty five or older.

Councilmember Deborah Fudge, the lone vote against the measure, sought more lenient rules, saying some have come to depend on the money.

"I think people have had to be creative with incomes, for all kinds of reasons; COVID, economy, early retirement," she said.

Councilwoman Tanya Potter, told the assembled that she firmly supports vacation rentals, but with conditions.

"I'm not against short term rentals in any way, my goal is to move them to where they belong which is into the business district."

Prior to the vote, Salmon told colleagues and town staffers that without enforcement, the ordinance would be mere words on paper. He says some 78 STRs are operating legally.

"I think we've been told now that there's probably many, many, more non-hosted STRs that are not licensed, not on the radar, won't be on the radar. What I've heard in Healdsburg, they banned short term rentals, there's short term rentals in Healdsburg."


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