Council Adopts Airbnb Ordinance; Holds Off on a Touchy HOPE Van Policy; Limits Butane Sales; and Grants Hefty Raises to Electric Workers

The Redding City Council moved Tuesday to acknowledge—and legalize—a fast-growing component of the new sharing economy by voting for an ordinance regulating the Web-based, short-term rentals of homes through businesses like Airbnb.

With a 5-0 vote, the council adopted an ordinance outlining the requirements Airbnb “hosts” must follow, including the need for a business license, a $300 permit and the collection of a 12-percent Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from their guests.

Airbnb supporters were able to persuade the council to OK an alternative version of the ordinance that increased the number of rental days allowed per year from 120 to 180; a similar concession was made for parking to allow hosts to provide on-site parking for renters only.

Planning Manager Kent Manuel said issues surrounding short-term rentals surfaced last April when the city began receiving some complaints about parking and commercial activity in residential neighborhoods.

At that time, a quick search revealed some 200 rooms available for rent in Redding plus an unknown number posted on Bethel Church’s Web site, Manuel said. Since most of those short-term rentals were technically illegal and not generating TOT revenues for the city, Manuel began work on an ordinance to address the parking complaints and “level the playing field” so that established bed-and-breakfast businesses could compete fairly.

With input from a citizen advisory panel and comments from a Redding Planning Commission meeting, a draft ordinance was written that offered a category for hosted home stays (limiting homeowners to renting two rooms and capping the number of rental days at 120) and a category for vacation rentals that had unlimited rental days but required a $1,400 site development permit. Neither category allowed off-site parking on streets.

In response to concerns from Airbnb hosts, Manuel came up with an alternative ordinance that allowed up to 180 rental days a year and let homeowners park their own cars on the street.

Five speakers addressed the council, each urging the panel to adopt the alternative ordinance. Shelly Shively, a frequent News Café contributor, extolled the virtues of hosting Airbnb customers. “This is a fantastic thing for Redding. It’s brought people from all over the world and we get to show them Redding through our own eyes,” Shively said.

Megan Conn said Airbnb is a great way to attract professionals to Redding. Doni Chamberlain, a regular Airbnb host (and publisher of A News Café), agreed: “We bring good people who are not on (electronic) ankle bracelets.”

Rachel Hatch noted that the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2013 adopted a resolution pledging to advance the sharing economy. The resolution in question says a sharing economy promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation, and cost-effective urbanization.

While moving to adopt the alternative ordinance, Councilwoman Francie Sullivan said the city is reaching out to help Airbnb hosts find a legal way to continue the practice. Councilwoman Kristen Schreder also expressed support for the short-term rentals, but asked that the ordinance include a six-month review.

Councilman Gary Cadd joined others on the council in expressing his appreciation for the way city planners worked with Airbnb hosts and other interested parties to craft a mutually beneficial ordinance.

Airbnb hosts are encouraged to contact the Community Services Department for a step-by-step guide to the new ordinance. Visit www.cityofredding.org for more information.

Hope Van

The HOPE Van

In other action Tuesday, the council:

–Voted to postpone the second reading of an ordinance that would, among other things, require the Shasta Community Health Center to obtain a temporary use permit before deploying its mobile outreach van in commercial areas.

The HOPE (Health Outreach for People Everywhere) van provides medical and dental care to Shasta County’s poorest residents. It is parked at the Empire Recovery Center on California Street from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Other weekly scheduled stops include the Good News Rescue Mission and the Shasta Community Health Center office on Market Street.

The HOPE van’s presence downtown has prompted complaints from some business owners, who say the van’s clients tend to linger in the areas well before and after the van has come and gone. That loitering often leads to complaints of theft and vandalism.

Many in the large audience spoke in support of the HOPE van, including officials with Shasta Regional Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center. Representatives of the business community said they, too, support the van’s mission. “There’s no question about the service,” said business owner Jamie Lynn. “The question is location. We’re trying to figure out something that works for everybody.”

In the end, council members agreed that the proposed ordinance change, which was introduced at the council’s Jan. 19 meeting, had not been adequately explained to the affected parties and that more discussion is needed. Mayor Missy McArthur moved to table the issue and have staff bring it back before the council within three months.

Butane Ban

–Voted 5-0 to adopt an ordinance limiting the sale and possession of butane that has been refined five times (5X) or higher. The ordinance is identical to bans adopted by Anderson and the Shasta County Board of Supervisors; the Shasta Lake City Council is expected to take up the issue soon.

The high-grade butane is typically used to extract THC from marijuana in a highly flammable distillation process that creates a concentrated extract called honey oil. Redding Fire Chief Gerry Gray said butane is heavier than air and tends to hug the ground and spread; once it finds an ignition source, it ignites with astonishing force.

Gray said that although there were only 13 butane honey oil lab fires between Oct. 8, 2013 and Dec. 2, 2015, or 4 percent of all fires, they accounted for 68 percent of the injuries and deaths during that stretch.

Under terms of the ordinance, stores cannot sell more than 600 milliliters of butane 5X during a transaction; a customer is limited to 600 ml in any one month; and a person cannot possess more than 600 ml of butane 5X.

Raises

–Voted 4-1, with Councilman Cadd dissenting, to award a 7.5 percent raise to the 145 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers-Maintenance Unit. The first raise of 4 percent is effective immediately; the second 3.5-percent raise is effective Jan. 1, 2017.

By an identical vote, the council also approved a new three-year contract with the 65 members of the IBEW-Electric Unit that calls for a total raise of 14 percent. The first raise of 5 percent is effective immediately and bumps of 4.5 percent kick in on July 3 and Jan. 1, 2017.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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