State housing laws could increase Airbnbs |

State housing laws could increase Airbnbs

John Orona
Staff Writer

The Nevada City Council has updated its additional dwelling unit regulations to comply with new state laws aimed at increasing the housing supply, but council members fear the changes could instead increase the amount of Airbnbs in the city.

The laws taking effect this year — AB 68, AB 881 and SB 13 — limit the city’s ability to regulate additional dwelling units, expand the situations where they are mandated to be approved, shorten the timeline for approval of permits and limit the fees cities can impose on them.

In 2016, Nevada City residents voted down Measure Y, restricting regulations the city could impose on short-term rentals and home-sharing. These regulations coupled with state law could make it difficult for officials to regulate the amount of Airbnbs and free up housing for renters.

“I’m excited because we absolutely need housing,” Councilwoman Erin Minett said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “My concern immediately was, I’m worried about this being built for vacation rentals and not for long-term rentals.”

The new changes mean the city can no longer impose owner-occupancy requirements on additional dwelling units until 2025 and can no longer collect impact fees on units less than 750 square feet. They also increased the size limitation to 850-1,000 square feet, depending on bedroom count.

“I’m worried about it not being long-term rental,” Mayor Reinette Senum said. “You don’t want all these ADUs popping up and turning into Airbnbs.”

During the meeting the council mentioned the possibility of revisiting the 2016 citizen initiative, which could give it more flexibility in regulating Airbnbs within the confines of the new state mandates.

“It’s a citizen initiative so I think there should be a citizen initiative again,” Senum said. “I think our community understands the need for rentals, but we need to rewrite this. It’s going to be abused and I think it will get ugly. It’s going to be a serious problem.”

The council and public were also concerned about homeowners using the new rules to erect massive additional structures near their property that could interfere with their sunlight and gardening, as the law reduces setbacks to four feet.

“I’ve missed my sunshine in the winter. Right now I only get two hours of sun in my house,” Gail Damskey said during public comment on Wednesday. “That makes me crazy and puts me deeper into winter depression. That’s why I come down here and speak like I do.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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