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Paso Robles starts over on new vacation rental rules

A screenshot of AirBnb rentals currently available in Paso Robles

The city of Paso Robles is going back to the drawing board when it comes to regulating short-term rentals. The city council passed an urgency ordinance earlier in February to address growing noise and parking complaints, but this week the council had to repeal that ordinance due to a conflict of interest.

City documents show the number of short-term rentals in the city has almost doubled since 2016. So far, residents just needed to get a permit to legally operate a short-term rental through services such as AirBnb and VRBO.

The new urgency ordinance passed at the beginning of February added requirements like the submission of a formal plan on how renters will accommodate guests, including listing of the number of beds and parking rules.

One council member—Steve Gregory—had already recused himself from the issue due to owning short-term rentals. But following the vote, it came out that councilmember John Hamon may also have a conflict of interest because he is a trustee on a family property that is rented out. Some residents said Hamon shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the first place.

“We have a long time councilmember who did not understand he had a conflict?” said Michael Rivera at the February 19 Paso Robles city council meeting.

Hamon said he and his family don’t receive income from that property, but would recuse himself from the issue in the future. However, city staff argued that Hamon’s vote made the urgency ordinance invalid, and Tuesday night the council repealed it.

Then the council introduced a new urgency ordinance for short term rentals. But residents like Margaret Holstein asked them to take more time to consider.

“I think you guys should review this again,” Holstein said. “It’s not a good idea, because everyone is in a rush to get it done.”

Ultimately, the non-recused council members agreed, and passed on the crafting of new regulations to a short-term rental task force, asking the task force to come up with a clearer plan within the next 60 days.

The task force will hold its first public meeting on February 27 at 10 a.m. at Paso Robles Ciy Hall.

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