Rent A Room

There are dozens of vacation rooms and homes, like the one above, for rent in Napa through community marketplace sites such as Airbnb.com.

City officials want the public’s feedback before deciding how to amend Napa’s vacation rental ordinance.

A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Pelusi Building, 2296 Streblow Drive in Kennedy Park, to help determine whether the city should expand the number of short-term rentals as the popularity of management sites like “Airbnb“ increases.

Napa currently permits 42 vacation rentals in the city after establishing its ordinance in 2009 when many citizens complained about disturbances in their neighborhoods from renters staying less than 30 days.

At the time, residents could rent homes to vacationers by applying for a conditional business license. But some residents didn’t bother with the license and, after the complaints, the City Council decided to regulate the industry.

The regulation has apparently worked. City officials say complaints are down, tax revenue is collected on every room, and more citizens are interested in obtaining permits.

The council asked city staffers to investigate whether the ordinance could be amended and expanded.

There were initially 44 vacation homes permitted, although two homeowners lost their permits after selling their houses. The permits are non-transferable, and there isn’t a mechanism in the law to add more rentals.

That means there aren’t many vacation rental permits in the area. Napa County, for instance, banned all short-term rental properties.

City Community Development Director Rick Tooker said the city expects to hear three different viewpoints: people who want to obtain a permit for their home, people who want to transfer their existing permit when they sell their home, and people who simply don’t want to allow more permits in the city.

It is likely to be April before the city has a draft recommendation for the council. But some residents don’t want to wait that long, officials said.

Last month, resident Allison Castor asked the council to stop citing homeowners who choose to rent their properties on Airbnb until the city determines a plan. Five other Airbnb hosts also attended the meeting.

The council didn’t comment on Castor’s request. Wednesday will be the first chance for a lengthier discussion on the proposed changes.

Tooker said the city must balance the needs of the community while still maintaining a quality living environment.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the first of several before the recommendation in April to the council, he said.

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