If Redding’s Airbnb operators were reviewed on their compliance with the city’s 9-month-old vacation rental ordinance, most would be lucky to get one star.
“We need to do more outreach,” stated Larry Vaupel, Redding’s director of development services, while updating the Redding City Council Tuesday on the efforts to regulate, and tax, homeowners who rent out rooms on a short-term basis.
Adopted with a unanimous vote in February, the ordinance established guidelines for two types of short-term rentals: hosted homestays for those who rent out a room in their home and vacation rentals for those who rent out their entire residence.
The hosted homestay operators are required to sign an affidavit with the city, provide an off-street parking space for each room, collect a 12 percent Transient Occupancy Tax and they are limited to 180 rental days a year.
In addition to the parking and tax requirements, vacation rental operators are required to obtain a permit and pay a $300 fee. They are not limited to 180 rental days a year.
Here’s the rub: So far, the city has collected 28 hosted homestay affidavits and issued 18 permits for vacation rentals. However, Airbnb—a popular Web site that matches visitors with willing hosts—had some 265 Redding properties listed as of mid-September.
“We have a ways to go before we gain full compliance,” Vaupel said.
To improve compliance, Vaupel said the city will participate in the next quarterly meeting of Airbnb hosts to distribute brochures explaining the ordinance and letters will be sent to those permitted operators to ensure the transient occupancy tax is being paid.
Additionally, Vaupel said the city will continue to encourage current hosts who are “champions for our community” and see the benefits of short-term rentals to use social media avenues to urge their peers to comply.
Both Airbnb and a similar business, ivisitredding.com, have not been cooperative in helping city staff get the word out, Vaupel said in his report. Operators of ivisitredding have declined to provide notice of the ordinance but they did suggest the city buy an advertisement on their site.
The ordinance does not deal with property owners who rent out rooms for periods of 30 days or longer—typically homeowners renting out rooms to students for a school year—which is the source of most complaints received by the planning department, Vaupel added.
Robert Bohannon was the lone speaker on the issue and he told the council that a vacation rental home in the area “drastically affected the quality of life in my neighborhood” with constant issues of noise, littering and illegal parking. “We the citizens are being marginalized … the opportunity for these interlopers to operate with impunity is out there,” Bohannon said.
Vaupel said the house in question was being rented out to students on a long-term basis. He is working with City Attorney Barry DeWalt to determine how best to address longer-term rental situations.
In other action Tuesday, the council:
Kids Kingdom update
--Received an update from Kim Niemer, director of community services, on fundraising for new equipment at the popular Kids Kingdom playground in Enterprise Park. To date, some $266,000 has been raised. The playground equipment is expected to cost $310,000.
The latest effort, “Slide the City,” a chance to ride a water slide down the Placer Street hill, “was a huge success” and raised $16,000. Niemer said the Sept. 17 event attracted more than 5,000 people with 1,980 electing to slip down the 1,000-foot water slide.
Councilwoman Francie Sullivan said she wanted to offer a “shout out” to Rocky Slaughter for putting in the legwork to get the Slide the City operators interested in Redding. Slaughter was greeted with considerable derision when first pitched the water slide idea in 2015, but his perseverance helped put Redding on the map, Sullivan said.
Mayor Missy McArthur was one of the first to try out the slide and Vice Mayor Brent Weaver said the smiles on his children’s faces, as well as the smiles on others in attendance, gave ample proof that it was a great event.
Photos by Jon Lewis.