Grass Valley talks regulation, enforcement for short-term rentals |

Grass Valley talks regulation, enforcement for short-term rentals

Enforcing regulations on short-term vacation rentals may be a difficult task, Grass Valley’s City Councilmembers said Tuesday.

When regulations are put in place, rental hosts will be expected to comply with the city’s code “on the honor system,” said Vice Mayor Lisa Swarthout at Tuesday’s council meeting. Hosts will likely be fined, she said, if the city were to find out they weren’t complying with its rules, but “it’s not going to be a perfect process.”

“The city doesn’t have the staffing to monitor every single one of those places,” she said in an interview.

On websites like AirBnB, exact addresses aren’t revealed until a rental is booked by a customer, which makes regulation enforcement even more difficult for the city because many properties in Western Nevada County outside of city limits share Grass Valley’s zip code.

Tom Last, the city’s community development director, said Grass Valley will likely hire an outside company to keep track of which vacation rentals are within city limits. That company may also assist with enforcement, he said.

Last is working on a draft ordinance for the city’s short-term rental regulations, which will need approval from the city’s planning commissioners and further approval from city councilmembers before it takes effect.

Tuesday night, Last asked councilmembers their preferences on a variety of potential regulations.

Councilmembers said they were in favor of separating short-term rentals into two categories with slightly different rules. One category would cover rentals of a single room, and hosts would be required to live on-site. The other category would cover whole-house rentals, and a homeowner or property manager would be required to live within a certain distance of the home.

Councilmembers recommended the city allow short-term rentals on single-family zoned parcels rather than in all residential zones. They said the city should collect transient occupancy taxes from the rentals, require one parking space per room rented, and ban any signs posted outside homes.

Michael Colantuono, the city’s attorney, clarified that no decisions were made Tuesday night.

“This is the beginning of a process, not the end,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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