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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8 Responses

  1. Avatar trek says:

    A 7.5 and a 14% pay raise? How much of an effect will this have on COR elec. rates? Was this issue addressed? How much will the added cost be to the city in the coming year?

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m a big fan of Airbnb and VRBO—we tend to use those services for all of our extended (more than a night or two) travel these days, rather than renting hotel rooms or condos.  I’m not a big fan of people buying houses in my residential neighborhood to use exclusively as short-term rentals, though.   For homes located in residential neighborhoods, I would have preferred the 120-day cap—the 180-day cap (~50% occupancy) obviously makes it more feasible to treat houses exclusively as rental properties for temporary visitors.

    But I didn’t show up for the council meeting, so look at me blowing hot air after the fact.

    • Avatar trek says:

      I’m going to check out these sites you like as we stay in hotels, ect. about 30-40 times a year. A quick glance at the Airbnb showed promise.

      • Avatar Anita Brady says:

        I have used both services for stays in NewYork and found them to be good. Since I often travel by myself, I feel more comfortable in a home with a host, and even kids in residence.

  3. Avatar Virginia says:

    Heavens, in this economy with constant rate increases, Redding is giving such high raises to REA employees.  Love their NEW building on Airport Road!    What a way to run the City…

  4. Avatar Shelly Shively says:

    Steve Towers, I don’t blame you for not being a fan of those who abuse use of “short term rentals”, which may not even be Airbnb, but hosting through church or VRBO: giving a black eye to those of us Airbnb hosts who occasionally rent to travelers.

    I  resent these abusers of short term rentals: they aren’t short term, by any definition, in their inconsideration of neighbors,  by renting to housefuls of students living year round, taking up neighborhood parking and misrepresenting the very nature & intention of this home-sharing opportunity.  I hope this isn’t the case in your neighborhood.  I know that Airbnb strives to maintain a status of excellence for guests and hosts, world wide.  They would want notification if an Airbnb host was making trouble for the rest of us.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I don’t mind at all if someone in my neighborhood wants to rent a bedroom room to travelers on a regular basis.  I’m sure there are people who live in their homes and don’t mind hosting people for a good number of nights every year—more power to them.  What I object to are the houses that nobody lives in full-time, and are exclusively short-term-rental properties—I’d guess the granting of a 180-day cap was meant to appease those who purchase properties to rent whole-house to short-term visitors.  There’s a beautiful mid-century house in our neighborhood that rents for $325 per night, plus a cleaning fee.  If it rents for 180 days per year, that’s a $58,500 gross.  There are expenses, but those are at least partly offset by the cleaning fee.

      My concern is admittedly selfish.  My wife and I bought a smaller home at bargain price when we downsized and moved to town from Palo Cedro, but are looking for a nicer, larger home in the neighborhood.  I don’t really want to be competing with Airbnb investors.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2014/02/airbnb_gentrification_how_the_sharing_economy_drives_up_housing_prices.html

  5. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    The people I know who are involved with Airbnd are not investors.  They are local folks who are looking for ways to keep their homes and make house payments in this sour economy.  Steve Towers concern is something I’ve never considered.  I had understood that Airbnd  was a program that utilized private homes.  It would be interesting to know if some of the rentals hired out for college students are even connected to Airbnd.  I have a friend who rents rooms to college students during the year.  She is a Christian and only rents to Bethel students, but she is in not involved with the Airbnd business.    Thanks for the great report Jon Lewis.