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Living in a Rental Paradise?

news1_housingThe debate over a county vacation rental ordinance continues
It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and the tourists staying in the vacation rental next door are rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” You could call the Sheriff’s Office, but since the homeowner lives out of state, it’s unlikely that your simple reprimand will be the end to your sleepless nights.

Scenarios like these are becoming more and more common in Santa Cruz County, where there are a known 570 vacation rentals. With the advent of the Internet, it’s not hard to see why it’s a goldmine industry.

But along with the tourists and supplemental income have come neighborhood complaints of increased traffic, excessive garbage, late night partying and limited street parking. In response to the grievances of locals, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold proposed a Vacation Rental Ordinance to the Board on June 15, 2010.

Provisions of the ordinance include an administrative use permit and transient occupant tax registration, limit tenancy to one per week, restrict occupancy to four people per bedroom and require on site parking. A contact for the vacation rental must be within 15 miles of the home and the property cannot be used for weddings or corporate events.

In a town where tourism is the No. 1 industry, it’s not surprising that Leopold’s ordinance has vacation rental owners and local businesses enraged, pitchfork in hand.

At a public hearing on Oct. 6 in Live Oak, where 12 to 13 percent of the houses are vacation rentals, 150 fervent community members voiced their opinions—some in favor, others opposed—about the ordinance before the Housing Advisory Commission, which concluded the meeting with a 7-2 rejection.

In response to its dismissal, the Planning Department created a revised ordinance, which was accepted in a 9-1 vote at the Nov. 3 Housing Advisory Commission meeting. The new version includes a registration system by means of a ministerial permit, the requirement of in-county management, a condition that the Sheriff’s Office be reimbursed for responding to complaints, a dispute resolution process and necessary signage for each rental that includes management contact information.

However, minutes after the HAC approved the simplified ordinance, the Planning Department surprised everyone at the meeting with the announcement that they had created a third ordinance without the public’s knowledge. The third proposal has a provision for public input regarding vacation rental permits—after someone applies for a permit, the Planning Commission sends out a letter to all houses within 300 feet. Only if the homeowners approve of the permit will it be issued.

For Anthony Abene, spokesman for Good Neighbors of Santa Cruz (GNSC), a nonpartisan group of more than 200 county citizens, the third ordinance is an unwelcome sneak attack. “We thought the Planning Commission came up with a reasonable compromise,” says Abene, referring to the second revision. “I’m concerned that we’re going to be ignored after all this work we’ve put into attending meetings and such. We’re hoping they won’t throw away all the public input.”

While GNSC is in support of peaceful, quiet neighborhoods, they believe that Leopold’s proposed regulations will drive away tourists and, in doing so, severely harm the local economy. For GNSC, a realistic ordinance would apply to everyone, require people to register their vacation rentals, make signage with contact information for the owner mandatory, require an in-county contact instead of in-county management and allow for a two-hour response time for complaints (rather than require the contact to be within 15 miles of the home). They also oppose the public hearing process, saying it gives too much power to neighbors and competing vacation rentals.

At the other end of the spectrum sits Friends of Live Oak Neighborhoods, a coalition of Live Oak residents who feel that a strict ordinance is a no-brainer. Referring to vacation rentals as “unmanaged mini-motels” in a Nov. 7 letter to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Marcella Hall wrote on behalf of the coalition in support of Leopold’s crackdown.

“Would you want to live next to a home with that kind of turnover of vacationers in ‘party mode?’” she asked readers, calling the ordinance “a very small step in trying to keep many of our neighborhoods from becoming commercial strips.”

That very image of businesses infiltrating residential communities is what prompted Leopold to propose an ordinance in the first place. The idea of regulation, explored eight years ago by his predecessor First District Supervisor Janet K. Beautz, but never resolved, has become increasingly imperative, according to Leopold, with the recent proliferation of vacation rental homes.

“When you have 600 units of commercial activity in neighborhoods, it’s an appropriate place for land use regulation,” says Leopold, who cites Capitola as a city that has had successful regulation of vacation rentals for a decade. “I’m not willing to forsake neighborhoods for tourism—we need a healthy balance.”

Yet GNSC maintains that a vacation rental increase of 1 to 2 percent each year is hardly an invasion. After all, Abene adds, vacation rentals have been abundant in Santa Cruz for more than 100 years.

Since many vacation rental owners screen residents prior to their stay and have their own house rules, should everyone have to pay for the sins of a few bad apples?

For the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council (CVC), the answer is far from black and white. To the council, a sensible ordinance would include a permitting process, whereby vacation rental owners would have to pay transient tax, an in-county contact to address problems and a dispute resolution process.

What concerns CVC’s CEO Maggie Ivey most, however, is the prospect of a seven-night minimum, as is the policy in Monterey and Carmel—when “most tourists don’t have the time or money to stay more than three days”—and the ordinance’s impact on the real estate market. “The tourism industry understands neighborhood integrity,” says Ivey. “But there is a small number of chronic offenders, whose actions will affect a lot of people.”

Of those impacted, Kevin Moon, Farmers Insurance executive and former Santa Cruz City Council candidate, is convinced that the vacation rental owners are the victims and that the legislative process for the ordinance is a farce designed to trick citizens into believing that their opinions matter in county decision-making.

“The ordinance is a total infringement on people’s property rights,” says Moon. “This is an old-time political move wherein the politicians propose an aggressive-type of ordinance that makes citizens upset, then they’ll back it up and back it up until they get what they want—they make the people think they won, when really the politicians won.”

Exactly how public opinion will factor into the ordinance’s outcome is yet to be seen. At the Nov. 10 Planning Commission hearing, 47 of 61 speakers argued in favor of either no ordinance or the revised version recommended by the Housing Advisory Commission. Still, a fourth proposal was discussed by the Planning Commission which would have a separate set of rules for Live Oak than for the rest of the county, require existing vacation rentals to be grandfathered countywide, either have no limits on turnover or a two-day minimum, maximum occupancy would be two per bedroom plus two additional, signage, a permit fee and parking limited to two cars on-site and two on the street.

As confirmed by Leopold’s recent email newsletter, the debate is far from over. Since a lawyer hired by three out-of-town vacation rental owners has presented a legal challenge, the environmental review process for the ordinance will have to be extended. The Planning Commission is scheduled to take a final vote on Feb. 23, 2011, after which the draft of the ordinance will go before the Board of Supervisors and will need approval from the Coastal Commission.

With four proposals on the table, hours of testimony and the unavoidable conundrum of not being able to please everyone, to say the good-intentioned Leopold has opened a can of worms may be the understatement of the year.

Comments (28)Add Comment
In response to elephant in the room.
written by jan and russ peterson, February 06, 2011
I have no problem acknowleding that we are running a business. We have owned our vacation rental for 5 years, I don't "pretend it is a private residence". I have paid my taxes both property and TOT, and I have reported my rental income on my taxes. We employ local businesses to maintain/repair our property, we have never had a single police complaint, or a complaint from a neighbor. In the contract I send to guests I outline the parking and curfew rules, I also review them with the guest verbally. Our house is very well kept up inside and out, unlike a number of the long term rentals in our Live Oak area, and I don't think I am in the minority of VR. I agree there need to be rules for those that are abusing the system, but I question where the discussion really started, possibly someone with an agenda powered by politics????
Out of State Owner, but property and neighbors are doing better than ever.
written by Lolly, February 06, 2011
For the past twenty years I have been away from home living out of state. During that time our property was at the mercy of occupants who painted the walls sometimes bright pink, drove around the meadow in trucks and bob cats, and danced around the bonfire parties held under our tree canopies. We have no such problems with our home now it is used for vacation rental or short-term corporate housing. We have professional managers who are local and can help us when we cannot be there. We are able now able to reinvest our time and money into Santa Cruz at a rate that we were not able to achieve when the house was rented to others for years at a time rendering it unusable for ourselves. We love coming home several times a year to putter and do our chores, and visit with our neighbors. The property has never been better or our neighbors happier. And yes we report the income and do pay taxes. Our guests without exception have been responsible people that have taken extraordinary care to leave the place, as it was found and have not caused disruptions in this quiet single-family owner-occupied neighborhood. I do support the formation of a Santa Cruz County Landlord Association that could bind landlords to a code of conduct as a condition of membership and occupancy permit. You cannot legislate good manners or neighbors, but law enforcement could enforce ordinances already on the books for street parties and noise violations. Historically, Santa Cruz County has been a place for vacation cottages for more than a hundred years. This small on-going cottage industry is often the reason that out-of-town visitors stay and spend their money in the shops, markets, and restaurants rather than packing up lunch boxes and driving straight home. It sounds like it is time for folks to talk to and care about neighbors rather than to bad mouth the many wonderful visitors because of a couple of neighborly indifferences.
A Family Oriented, Affordable Vacation Rental in the Heart of Santa Cruz
written by Lorraine Heng, February 06, 2011
My family has owned and rented our duplex on 30th Avenue for over thirty years. Even though it was very run down when we bought it, and it was too far from metropolitan areas for a practical work commute, we recognized the limited availability of coastal properties and the value of the location for vacations outside of the large metropolitan areas of California. We purchased it with the intent of improving the structure and renting it to others for vacationing, as well as enjoying it ourselves.
Over the years, we have re-invested most of the income that has been generated, to maintain and upgrade the property to its highest and best use as a family oriented, affordable vacation rental . In the process, we have hired local plumbers, painters, gardeners, cleaners. . . to help us maintain and improve the property. In addition, we have generated a hefty Transient Occupancy Tax for the County on a regular basis.
We have had wonderful guests that come from all over the world for anywhere from two days to two months at a time to enjoy the Santa Cruz ambience. Many of them are couples, or young families that probably couldn’t afford the time or money to come for longer vacations. Fortunately, we have never had any problems with any of our guests, nor our neighbors. We have plenty of off-street parking; we limit the number of occupants, and we discourage loud parties.
I would like to share comments from some of our guests:
“We had a great vacation in California. The kids agreed it was the holiday of a lifetime! In particular, the location of the cottage was perfect for us.” (Denmark)
“Thank you so much for our wonderful stay in Santa Cruz. The location was perfect! The home was perfect. Everything we could need, and then some, was provided. The neighborhood was quiet, and many things were within walking distance--great food and shopping. It was wonderful being able to have my morning coffee outside listening to the ocean. We used the rental while waiting to move into our new home--and it was perfect. Thank you again. I can’t think of one thing to complain about.”
“We had a wonderful time exploring the area! We did just about everything from the Steam Train through the Redwoods to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We had such a wonderful family vacation and thoroughly enjoyed this cute and cozy cottage!”
“This was just perfect for our family of 4. We loved the maybe 5 minute walk to the beach. Everything was just as described and we loved the new decorator touches.. Just enough room for what we needed. A clean relaxing stay. This will be a vacation we will be talking about for a long time. The whole town was so laid back and relaxing and everyone we talked to was so nice. We went to the amusement park many times, 1 day for rides, 1 day for games and miniature golf and the fresh seafood on the pier was awesome, maybe 10 minute quick drive. We would definitely like to come back.
“I am loving this area. This morning I was window shopping at the real estate agencies!!”
Pleasure Point is a prime vacation spot; and it has a natural draw for tourist business coming to the community. We can appreciate the need to do some regulation of the industry, such as requiring permits, and parking. However, an arbitrary limitation on length of occupancy, the number of occupants per unit, and the number of tenancies permitted per week would be major obstacles to all concerned. Not everyone can afford the time or the money to come for a month or even a week. The proposed ordinance would reduce income for the County and discourage potential business. Furthermore, I believe it is being highly discriminatory and unfair to disallow multi-family units from being used as vacation rentals. Our duplex is perfectly suited to its current use; and, it has taken us many years, and a lot of hard work to bring the duplex to its present level of operation. I hope the County Board of Supervisors will exercise caution in their decision making.
Mom dying of cancer has never been to a beach house before
written by Cynthia1067, February 06, 2011
This woman's mom is dying of cancer, and has never been to a beach house - true story - let's keep ALL sides of this issue open!

http://wandasbucketlist.blogspot.com/2011/01/girls-trip-to-beach-house.html

Vacation Rentals
written by Jim Munro, February 06, 2011
We live on 12th Ave and have done for 26 years. The neighborhood was subdivided in 1897 with the express purpose of building weekend and vacation homes homes for people from San Jose and San Francisco. One of the characteristics of 'beach' neighborhoods is that they are very diverse. Some houses have been held by families for generations, and when their young progeny comes to stay, whether they come from Fresno or Sacramento, they truly believ they OWN the neighborhood and make their presence known with loud and boorish behavior.
And then there are the vacation renters! In actual fact, for the most part they cosist ofolder couples and young families who are just delighted to spend few days or a week in our neighborhood. They have a great time,make a few friends andfor the most part are welcomed by everybody who meets them.
Of course there are a few problesms. Sometines there are barking dogs, and once in a long while there is a 'nighmare' tennant where the Sheerif gets calledand they get kicked out and get no refund. I would say that on 12th Ave, this happens about once every five years.
Bottom line is that vacation rentals bring life toan otherwise empty neghborhood wher ther are only a handfull of fu time residents.
As far as I am concerned, vacation reters are wecome. The alternative is student filled party houses where we know there is virtually no enforcement and misery for anyone who lives near them!
There are good reasons to register and collect taxes from vacation rentals, but no reason to go further except to pay attentin to complaints.Until the County can show it can control Party Houses, dont even bother pretending that vacation rentals are a problem!
Responsible Vacation Rental Owner
written by Carol Nakamoto, February 05, 2011
One hopes that with some time to reflect, the Planning Commission has a fresher perspective in trying to find a reasonable, simple solution to establishing a few guidelines on vacation rentals in Santa Cruz County. Moving from no regs to restrictive, punative rules is a most disagreeable approach to easing into a solution. The vast majority of VR owners are law abiding, tax paying, and responsible...don't treat us like delinquents when we haven't misbehaved.

Take it slower (propose ministerial permits), gather more information (identify the VRs for 3-5 yrs), and focus on problem properties (request Sheriff's office to track complaints). Only then will you have enough information to decide IF stricter guidelines are even warranted. Remember, Santa Cruz is a popular vacation destination that is a positive reflection on our special beach community AND it brings in needed economic dollars to support a better way of life for the citizens. Be careful not to create an unwelcome outcome. Thank you.
Live Oakes property owner since 1961
written by Fran LeMieux, February 02, 2011
I am completely in support of residents who are routinely disturbed by inconsiderate renters, whether they be vacationers or full-time renters, BUT I can't not support this outrageous, discriminatory proposal. Enact a system for penalizing the offending landlords, but do burden the rest of the law-abiding, tax paying, revenue generating citizens of Santa Cruz with a flawed ordinance which will have long lasting negative impacts on the community. Please let common sense prevail and consider the majority opinion which is overwhelming opposed to this government intrusion of property rights.
Vacation Rentals: Business, Problem and Negative Externality
written by Catharine, January 08, 2011
I can't help wondering if the comments supporting VRs from friendly neighbors are real! I live in a condo with vacation rentals. The problem seems pretty straightforward:

(1) One person writes: Citizens who save and risk to own a home have every right to live in their home or rent it as they alone decide.

That's true up to a point. You can't grow marijuana or start a prostitution ring even in your own home. You can't stand on your porch and blow noxious gas all over the neighborhood. In some places, you are limited to 3 or 4 pets, even in your own home. Secondly, if you could keep your guests from interaction with the neighbors, you would have a stronger case.

Anyway, when you have a VR, you no longer have a home. You have a business. If you use an agency, it's a turnkey business.

(2) Numbers are deceptive because vacation rentals pack people in tightly. A 10% increase in units means a 20-40% increase in population, with implications for safety as well as quality of life.

(3) It's nearly impossible to enforce noise, occupancy and parking codes with vacation renters. Even if you take a photo of a renter engaging in criminal behavior, it's unlikely anyone will identify the person - and he'll be gone by the time you do.

(4) There are always costs to neighbors in any vacation rental, whether it's the intangible cost of losing a potential neighbor, stress of dealing with a parade of strangers, loud noise or actual criminal action: you're turning hundreds of people loose in a private area, with no background checks.

(5) Vacation rentals are a nearly perfect example of what economists call a negative externality. The property owner gains revenue. The renters get a deal. The neighbors bear the costs. That is, they subsidize the VRs by tolerating noise and giving up a potential community member. I can't think of any other industry where the legal system supports a negative externality. Conceptually, it's the same as dumping toxic waste into a river or spewing nasty fumes into the environment.

The real mystery is, why are these rentals so protected? When cigarette smoking was banned in taverns and bars, some had to close. Nobody felt sorry for the owners. Nobody talked about private property or the right to conduct business your own way. Nobody said, "If you don't like smoke you can just leave." What's so special about vacation rentals?
Vacation Rentals - A business
written by GMAN, December 26, 2010
Vacation Rentals ARE a Business and therefore should be subject to business regulations including obtaining a business license, paying their fair share of taxes and supporting the community (maybe through. Live Oak is a seperate community - not a city but an unincorporated part of the county. Let the Live Oak area residents decide their own fate. Do short-term rentals contribute to the betterment of the community - not really. But neither do the wannabe gang bangers who seem to congregate here along with the sleazy druggy folk and other lowlifes drawn to Live Oak by the more affordable housing. What to do? Screen long-term renters more closely and maybe work through a responsible property management firm. For short-term rentals - run a credit report on renters, limit rentals to one month or shorter, keep a list of problem renters that can be shared with other property management firms and rental owners and listen to your rental home neighbors and be a good neighbor by answering their complaints/concerns to their satisfaction.
Member, U.S. Vacation Rentals
written by Betty Sakai, December 25, 2010
Ayn Rand in 1957 in Atlas Shrugged described looters as those who confiscate others' earnings by force, including government officials whose demands are backed by the implicit threat of force, and those who are proponents of high taxation, big labor, government ownership, government planning, regulation, and redistribution. Citizens who save and risk to own a home have every right to live in their home or rent it as they alone decide. Owners and renters are obligated to abide by the fair and universal occupancy, parking, and noise control codes and ordinances that those working in government are obligated to provide for the peace and protection of all citizens equally -- and that is all.
Happy Neighbor
written by Happy neighbor , December 25, 2010
This article is ludicrous in content and to the extent in which it is trying to mislead everyone! I am saddened this is what our county politics are all about! Vacation rentals are not a problem the great majority of the time and most everyone who lives close to them knows that. The agenda behind this flawed ordinance is shocking and the damage to our community and rights will be horrific. Maybe we should do away with UCSC since we local people clearly know long term rentals filled with college kids are a 365 day a year problem. Think about it! I have several vacation rentals around us and we have no problems!
...
written by Capt. Sal, December 24, 2010
The restrictions on Live Oak will destroy the VRs along the entire beach. This is an obvious, back room deal between Supv. Pirie and Supv. Leopold. She will support it only by gaining special consideration or exempting all her beach front areas of VRs. As long as it does not affect a supervisor's district, they will support it, even against the overwhelming majority of the people from the entire County including their districts. This will affect their districts as well economically; they should do what is right for the County. This is not right for Live Oak either. This is obviously a repay by Leopold from his prior election and forward. Many people and businesses from all districts are already preparing for the next elections accordingly. I truly hope the supervisors wake up before they destroy the lives of so many people and Santa Cruz as a vacation destination other than the day visitors. Areas like Monterey or Carmel have been the day visits. Now it will reverse. Even my great grandparents would come here to vacation in Live Oak, Pleasure Point area. What destruction by one power hungry politician.
Vacation Rental Owner
written by Lorraine Heng, December 24, 2010
I am concerned about vindictive attitudes of some residential property owners as it relates to the use of the police, the county offices, and the institution of a hearing process for landlords as it relates to vacation rentals. I strongly believe that the rights of property owners are equally protected by the constitution whether the property is residential or investment. I would appreciate it if the county could help avert prolonged legal battles, by carefully designing , a clear, simple, non-punitive, non-restrictive, non-discriminatory, county wide vacation rental ordinance..
...
written by LiveOakHomeowner, December 23, 2010
To Elephant in the room,

The even bigger elephant in the room is why people like you are so concerned about what everyone else is doing. So what if someone makes a little money? Why do you care so much? Jealous? Are you mad at the Long term landlord? Are you mad at the family that rents to boarders? Are you mad at the guy who buys a house, knocks it down, and sells it for profit. Yes, the bigger Elephant in the room is people like you who MUST control others at all costs. If you tell me the vacation home next to you truly makes to much noise, you have my sympathy. But you sound like a pathetic loser who has to meddle in other peoples lives.
Homeowner
written by B Dennis Hickey, December 23, 2010
The proposed, vacation-rental ordinance is a poorly founded, draconian attack on citizens of this county. Many politicians do not grasp that antidote is not the singular of data! They refuse to spend a small portion of their considerable recourses to statistically validate these few individual’s complaints. There are plenty of homeowners who live next to and/or near vacation rentals who have had no problem, at all.
The county policing departments are paid to keep accessible, historic records. A responsible BOS should insist on scrutinizing them! There is no statistical substantiation for the asserted individual’s claims.
Further, individual issues should be so addresses – as individual issues. There are existing codes that apply to most of the antidotal complaints. If a civil conversation between the principals is fruitless, the Sherriff’s office will respond and record occurrences. A remedy is feasible, without imposing a count-wide ordinance.
I want someone to acknowledge
written by Live Oak Homeowners under Attack , December 22, 2010
To the "elephant in the room" post. Sure, sometimes the VRs are a business but in my area on East Cliff, the VR's are the best neighbors, and we know the owners and have had no problems for years. In contrast, the long term renters and owners are the real source of problems over many, many years. In many cases VRs are simply rented part time to help folks to keep their homes when times are tough. The rentals are not storefronts or gas stations, so let's keep this in perspective. Rowdy beach-goers do not need a rental to constantly cause noise and trash near the beach, right? Are you going to ban them next?

All we ask of our "representatives" is to make any rental ordinance FAIR for all SC county. A layered approach to define and locate the problem rentals and one set registration and one fee. The REAL elephant in the room is how the Live Oak homeowners 7th to 41st may be subjected to outrageous fees ($2500 as opposed to $250) and other unreasonable restrictions that would not apply to other areas. How is that fair? The latest proposed ordinance is outrageously unjust and has no factual data to support it's uneven and unwarranted application. Can anyone justify or even acknowledge this huge disparity? I keep asking and asking this question and NOBODY can.

Also, the GT article above seems slanted with the fake "party house" scenario lead in, and and the part of the article that stated "150 fervent community members voiced their opinions—some in favor, others opposed—about the ordinance before the Housing Advisory Commission, which concluded the meeting with a 7-2 rejection." some in favor-others opposed? Really? I was there. It was well over 4-1 AGAINST at all these meetings, all online forums, all petitions, why do you think it was voted down by the HAC? They listened to the majority! The only 2 HAC's for this ordinance were Leopold appointees! Surprise!

The BOS and their Planning appointees have chosen to ignore the very reasonable HAC recommendations but we fervently hope they will come to their senses, let reason prevail and make ONE ordinance for the whole county. Sure, call VR's a business, but with one set of rules for the whole county. It's only fair.

What about the elephant in the room.
written by Adam Smith, December 22, 2010
I want someone to acknowledge that VR's are a business and thus subject to different set of rules than a private residence. When running a business in residential area it requires more laws and rules. VR owners expect me to pay taxes to support their business while pretending "it is just a private" residence. If VR owners were as wonderful as everyone in the post seems to believe, this discussion would be mute. I really wonder how many of you VR owners are actually reporting your VR income to IRS?
Vacation rentals are not a problem
written by Jenny Smith, December 21, 2010
I live next door to a vacation rental and they have been nothing but considerate. They don't rent for wedding, bachelor parties or any major functions, and they carefully screen their guests. We have never had problems with their guests. Meanwhile, if the ordinance passes as-is, it will be devastating for people in this county, especially the ones not fortunate enough to own two homes.

One every one of these online forums, as far as I can tell, there is only a tiny minority of people who actually have a problem with vacation rentals - not enough to warrant the severe regulations being proposed.

The bait and switch of the Board of Supervisors to pass the initial ordinance proposed by Leopold is appalling - I can't believe Santa Cruz County is so sleazy.
...
written by Beth, December 21, 2010
I 2nd Carol N.'s comments. Keep any potential ordinance simple- registration and ensure TOT is paid. Collect quality data on any and all houses in the county (whether they be vacation rentals, long term rentals, owner occupied, etc) that are trouble and deal with those on a one-to-one basis. As for folks that just don't like vacation rentals because there is more activity, that's a potential "issue" for any home. Depending on who lives in a home and if there is extended family, many friends, hosts a lot of work and/or family gatherings, etc., one house can be busier than another.
Responsible VR owner
written by Carol Nakamoto, December 21, 2010
After attending both recent Planning Commission meetings, I appreciate complexity of drafting a reasonable set of rules/guidelines, but I'm surprised at how restrictive decisions can be reached with so little data (not exact count on existing VRs, lack of Sheriff Dept data on disturbances). One hopes that a phased approach will prevail, where ministerial permitting, TAT payments, Sheriff logs kept, focus on the troublemakers and not the entire VR owners, many of us engage local property managers with great screening procedures, have clear house rules. Traveling down a restrictive path will stifle home value appreciation, resale hindrances, burdensome bureaucracy for Planning staff, and more unhappy citizens than this problem warrants.

Start more simply, please!
How is this fair?
written by A Long Time Live Oak Resident, December 20, 2010
Apparently some members of the Board of Supervisors are way too eager to pass this flawed legislation that will threaten homeowners rights and violate fair use of property. What is disturbing is the lack of objective data that is driving this slapdash ordinance. The Live Oak area homeowners would be subjected to absolute tyranny if one disgruntled neighbor does not want a vacation rental 300 feet away. The Live Oak area from 7th-41st would be subjected to a lopsided $2,500 fee but if you live on 6th ave, its only $250? How is that fair? Please explain! Can anyone justify that difference except that is is one Supervisor's district? The only police data that indicate problems are the student rentals on the West Side! DON'T FORGET! Live Oak Supervisor John Leopold was elected by the heavy support from public employee unions, and now it's time for him to pay them back by new fees or increases of existing fees to help back-fill public employee salaries and pensions. Reject this ordinance until it is evenly applied to the entire county, and fair to all!
...
written by santa cruz whiners, December 20, 2010
If I hear one more person say that vacation rentals are "proliferating" because of the "advent of the internet" I AM GOING TO THROW UP IN MY MOUTH. I can't belive so many journalists are regurgitating Leopold's FALSE one-liner. Vacation rentals are not taking over....the whiners are.
Property Values
written by Cheryl Haines, December 20, 2010
When we start limiting how these properties are used, we also limit their potential appreciation. In a soft real estate market, I'd think everyone would be in favor of keeping real estate prices solid or on the rise.

Collect taxes and license fees, for sure -- but don't unnecessarily limit the potential value of most people's single largest investment!
A vacation rental ordinance is VERY necessary
written by Responible business owner, December 20, 2010
This is outrageous. Vacation rentals are a business. The logic that this is encroachment on your private home owner rights is obtuse at best. As the owner and operator of a business you are expected to operate under certain conditions which are more strict than a primary residence. This should not be a surprise to anyone. VR owners do not have a right to make money at the expense of the neighborhood. You do not get to run a business and pretend you are just a simple home owner.
Vacation Rental
written by Dina Blair, December 20, 2010
Every weekend it's the same thing...a noisy party, just different people. I'm tired of calling the police when it's after midnight and the renters are still in the hotub (which is right next to the fence that our bedroom is on), drinking, screaming, and puking. The landlords are profiting off of our misery. We have called them everytime we have to call the police to let them know what's going on and they don't care.
A vacation rental ordinance is not necessary.
written by home owner, December 20, 2010
Santa Cruz County should be "thanking vacation rentals home owners" for providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue at a time when the County budget needs tourist dollars the most. We do not need an overbearing ordinance to make everyone's lives more difficult, and sets neighbor against neighbor. We already have laws to address problem situations. The ordinance would be discriminatory, invasion of property rights, and creates huge unecessary turmoil amongst our local home owners, drives tourists away, decreases support jobs, discourages investment in property in Santa Cruz County, and will lower property values, all for the sake of a minority of a few complaining wealthy home owners, who don't need this option.
...
written by Happy Neighbor, December 20, 2010
our home has 3 vacation rentals immediately next to us. We have NO problems at all! I am shocked at your one sided opinions and urge you to find some facts to support your comments as I do not believe you will have any. We have lots of problems with the long term rental home which houses UCSC students! Shall we close USCS?
home owner
written by adam davis, December 20, 2010
I live next to a VR-- they're not the problem, it's the full-time renters. Please don't scare away the tourists!!

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Jawing

Monterey Bay scientists are working to crack the mysteries of—and dispel the myths about—great whites. But in the highly contentious world of shark experts, there’s a fin line between love and hate

 

Altars of Remembrance, Forgiveness & Rapprochement

We’re in Scorpio now—things mysterious, ageless, hidden, sometimes scary. Friday is Halloween; Saturday, All Saints Day; Sunday, All Soul’s Day. Sunday morning at 2 a.m. (after midnight), Daylight Savings Time ends. Clocks are turned back. Tuesday is the General Election. Our vote is our voice. Each vote matters. Applying freedom of choice—Libra’s teachings. It’s time to build Halloween, All Saints and All Souls altars—with marigolds, pumpkins, sugar skeletons, copal (incense), pomegranates, persimmons, candy corn and cookies, orange and black. It’s so Saturn (now in Scorpio). Saturn is the dweller on the threshold (like St. Peter at the gates of heaven). Saturn can look like a Halloween creature—a gargoyle—a fantastic dragon-like creature protecting sacred sites. The dweller (Saturn) stands at the door or threshold of sacred mysteries, wisdom temples, inner sanctums of churches, offering protection, scaring evil away. The last day of October and first two days of November, when veils between worlds thin and spirits roam about, are times of remembrance, forgiveness, reconciliation and rapprochement. These actions liberate us. At death, when reviewing our lives and the consequences of our actions if we have forgiven, then we are free, less encumbered with grief and sadness. We place forgiveness on our altars. Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s good to dress up as what we’re afraid of. Or whom we would mentor. Then we become one with them. Note to readers: by Thanksgiving I will need a place to live (with purpose). Please contact me if you know of a place where I can rest for awhile. Teach and build community. [email protected] I will be leaving my mother’s home for the last time.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of October 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Alberti Vineyards

Looking for some blood-red wine for your Halloween party? Then I have a recommendation for a new brew.

 

Turning Point

New revolving restaurant on the wharf, plus Cafe Ivéta and the last great Jack cheese