Jan 17 2018

Commercial Businesses to be Added to Piedmont Residences as Short Term Rentals Are Wanted by the City Council Majority

Should voters decide?

There was no Council call to inexpensively add the short term rental decision to the upcoming November 2018 City ballot, allowing Piedmont voters to decide whether or not short term rentals were appropriate for the City. 

A short term rental (STR) is the rental of a living space, sleeping room, accessory housing unit, apartment, or a house for a period of under 30 days.

In a surprise rejection of the Piedmont Planning Commission and staff recommendations to prohibit short term rentals (STRs), the majority on the City Council decided the commercial use of Piedmont homes for hotel/condominium style short term rentals should be allowed.

Mayor Robert McBain stood alone on the Council in opposing the short term rentals, stating he did not believe the rentals were in keeping with the residential character of the City and agreeing with the Planning Commission and Planning Commissioner Eric Behrens, who detailed the numerous reasons to ban the STRs.

The STR matter had been pending for City Council action since 2014.  The Planning staff informed the Council that the emphasis in Piedmont planning ordinances and the General Plan had been to permit accessory housing units to meet regional demands for housing, not provide for STRs.

Stories of recent police STR problems, changes to neighborhood feel, loss of privacy as renters came and went at all hours, lack of familiarity with Piedmont standards for quiet, further parking demands proved of little concern to the Council majority who wanted to be part of the larger community and offer hotel style short term rental of Piedmont rooms, living spaces and homes.

Those in favor stated:

  • Council resignations led to a policy change
  • No studies supported resident or Planning Commission concerns
  • People should be able to rent their homes as a hotel/resort
  • No hotels are available in Piedmont for guests
  • Vacationing Piedmonters want someone to occupy their home
  • Home buyers need to offset high Piedmont taxes with STR rental revenue
  • Piedmonters had already begun to rent their homes/rooms
  • Piedmont would be elite and unneighborly if it excludes STRs.
  • Neighbors could inform the rental property owner if there were problems caused by renters.
  • Few people would want to rent their homes or rooms
  • Piedmont is not a tourist destination
  • Trying the STR system would determine if problems presented themselves

The Council majority took little heed to those opposing STRs with concerns of:

  • Commercialization of Piedmont homes
  • Costly City administrative functions to oversee rentals
  • Safety and security concerns with ever changing unknown renters
  • Prior robbery and illegal activities already on record
  • Traffic impacts from those unfamiliar with Piedmont streets
  • Loss of privacy and quiet in neighborhoods
  • Change to the character of the community
  • Inconsistency with residential zoning per the City Charter
  • Contrary to the General Plan and zoning ordinances
  • Property owner requirement to carry commercial business insurance
  • Irregular hours of clients/renters both night and day
  • Demand for more parking in many areas
  • Disruption of the fabric of the City
  • Piedmont, as a residential City, was not designed for commerce and businesses in homes with narrow, curvy streets
  • Additional demands for City services
  • Changing Piedmont focus from education to commercial activities

One Piedmonter on La Salle Avenue stated she needed the income and had purchased her home with intent to rent space and commercialize the home.  Over 80 people had stayed in her home.

Another resident complained of high taxes and the need for someone to stay in their home when they vacationed in France.

The many pleas to keep STRs out of Piedmont were not persuasive to  the Council majority, nor was the possibility of permitted accessory housing units flipped to STRs of concern.

The Council was in a quandary over what to do, because no ordinance language had been drafted to allow STRs.  City Administrator Paul Benoit stated he was getting an idea of what the Council wanted and Councilmembers could send him items to be included in a draft ordinance permitting STRs.

The Council as a whole did not want the matter to be returned to the opposed Planning Commission for their renewed consideration of draft ordinance proposals.

There was NO call for the public to submit comments or ideas on the matter, only for the Council’s input to Benoit. There was no discussion of a ballot measure to allow Piedmont voters to decide to ban or permit STRs.

Anyone interested in STRs may send a comment directly to the City Council and City Administrator Paul Benoit to the links below:

Comments may be sent directly to City Administrator Paul Benoit by clicking his link >  pbenoit@piedmont.ca.gov


Paul Benoit City Administrator pbenoit@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 420-3042


Comments may be sent directly to Councilmembers by clicking on their links below:

Robert McBain, Mayor rmcbain@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 547-0597 2nd Term Exp. 11/20
Teddy Gray King, Vice Mayor tking@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 450-0890 1st Term Exp. 11/18
Jennifer Cavenaugh jcavenaugh@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 428-1442 1st Term Exp. 11/20
Tim Rood trood@piedmont.ca.gov (510) 239-7663 1st Term Exp. 11/18
Betsy Smegal Andersen bandersen@piedmont.ca.gov   Unexpired Term Exp. 11/18

Read East Bay Times report HERE.

One Response to “Commercial Businesses to be Added to Piedmont Residences as Short Term Rentals Are Wanted by the City Council Majority”

  1. Maybe a compromise could be that STRs are not allowed by right, but instead require a conditional permit of some sort. Existing areas that are particularly parking-impacted should be precluded. The residence should be able to legitimately be able to park at least two cars off-street. Of course there should be a maximum number of days per year, and only available to owner-occupied dwellings.

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