Nov 10 2015

No to Short Term Rentals

At the November 9, 2015 Planning Commission meeting, the Commissioners on a 4 – 1 vote recommended to the City Council that short term rentals (under 30 days) of homes, apartments, rooms, or second units not be allowed in Piedmont.

There were four public speakers addressing the issue.  Dr. Alicia Kalamas provided a list of problems associated with Piedmont rentals based on the AirBnB internet site that included parking, late night arrivals, numerous transient renters, and disruptions in neighborhoods. Commissioners expressed appreciation for the updated information and problems associated with short term rentals in Piedmont.

Three other speakers, two residents of Oakland and one from Piedmont, described what a broadening experience it had been to host guests from all over the world.  Those in favor of permitting short term rentals emphasized the ability to increase their income and lower their homeowner costs.

Four of the commissioners,  Chair Tony Theophilos, Vice Chair Eric Behrens, Phil Chase, and Susan Ode came to the conclusion that short term rentals did not comply with Piedmont’s residential character as stated in the General Plan and Housing Element nor zoning ordinances.  Further, they noted the insertion of a commercial, motel/hotel, facility within residential zones would not be supported by existing laws.  They were concerned over parking, public safety demands, incompatibility with neighborhood character, need for extensive staff to oversee rental compliance, transfer of permanent housing to short term use, and commercial ventures not in compliance with the Piedmont Home Occupation ordinance.

Commissioner Zhang had a different opinion, believing that times had changed and the internet is a primary source of information and resources.  He felt Piedmont should change with the times and allow short term rentals.

The Planning Commission recommendation to not allow short term rentals will now go to the City Council for final action.  The meeting date has not been set.

One Response to “No to Short Term Rentals”

  1. Nov. 6, 2015

    Re: Nov 9 Hearing on Short Term Rentals

    Dear Planning Commission,

    I will be out of town Nov. 9. Exhibit I, while imperfect, is likely the best compromise. The Report at page 2, line 1a,b states:

    a. A specified ministerial or discretionary approval process beyond the processes that currently exist is not required for short-term rentals;
    b. The same safety and business license tax regulations that are required for the renting of rooms in Section 17.39 are required for short-term rentals;

    This is a common sense approach that does not create undue burden on staff and maintains the general enforcement procedures in place. Exhibit 2 banning all STRs is far too draconian. Piedmont is not a tourist destination. The need for STRs in Piedmont is primarily by and for current residents for upbeat events such as weddings and serious events such as taking care of a very ill family member whose home is too small to accommodate many people. Beyond the politics of some who wish to keep Piedmont a closed community, there exists a very real human need by many Piedmont residents who require safe, affordable, convenient STRs for family and friends.

    There are three types of STR’s: unhosted homes, 2nd units and hosted room rentals. The hosted room rental is least invasive to a neighborhood as a Piedmont resident is always present and a single room can only accommodate one or two guests. Contrast that with an entire home, perhaps quite large, with no on site supervision present. Unlimited STR of homes should not be allowed yet the Report in Exhibit 1 suggests no limits on unhosted home rentals. This inconsistency is glaring and should be discussed and reconciled before any recommendation is given.

    I also question that entirely restricting STRs in 2nd units impacts Piedmont’s RHNA as that process is counted by permits and not by use.

    Viewing previous maps of STRs in town, clearly STRs are occurring only in Zone A in the lower part of town. Those living “up the hill” and especially in Zone E Estate zone have no wish or need for STRs. Allow STRs in Zone A and prohibit them in Zone E.


    Rick Schiller
    Piedmont resident.

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