NC Council approves B&B ordinance
March 26, 2015
Amidst impassioned public comment Wednesday night, the Nevada City Council unanimously approved a bed-and-breakfast ordinance that prohibits the establishment of new facilities in residential zones, ensuring due process procedures for discontinued and nonconforming B&Bs that are subject to revocation.
The council waived the full reading of the ordinance to make necessary adjustments, before officially adopting the initiative on April 8.
"This ordinance fixes the loophole that allowed the Kendall House to open," Mayor Terri Andersen said. "And it brings the municipal code into alignment with the city's ballot measure."
The ordinance was first adopted by council members in January as a 45-day urgency interim initiative, though it was eventually extended through the end of the year, or until the city and council were able to provide further analysis to revisit the policy and vote on it as a permanent ordinance.
"A regular ordinance is much stronger than an urgency ordinance," sitting City Attorney Don Shulman said. "It removes issues about the urgency ordinance from litigation."
The ordinance seeks to reinforce Measures F and G, which were approved by voters in 1994. The ballot measures removed city policy that regulated short-term rentals of more than one week and less than 30 days in the area, and prohibited the establishment of new B&Bs.
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Exceptions have been made over the years, though, including in October 2014 when a former B&B facility known as Kendall House was granted a permit to reopen for business.
The city has since worked through impending lawsuits in reference to B&Bs in neighborhoods from a local group called Friends of Spring Street, while also dealing with further settlement talks with a group known as Friends of Nevada City.
According to the ordinance, nonconforming B&Bs would be reviewed in a due process hearing with the city to decide whether permits would be revoked. The policy also states B&Bs with alleged inactivity for more than a year could be considered nonconforming pending city review.
Last week, the city's Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance and unanimously voted that the ordinance not be adopted by the city council, although the council saw otherwise.
"The council doesn't have the authority to overturn Measure G, that should be done by the voters," council member Robert Bergman said. "What we're attempting to do is put things in place to make things clearer than they have been in the past … If there is a change, that is a change to be in the future and up to the voters."
Andy Howard, owner of Nevada City's Emma Nevada House B&B, spoke out against the ordinance Wednesday, saying it would affect tourism in the area.
"I believe this is bad for the city and bad for the merchants and bad for everybody in the end," said Howard.
City Manager Mark Prestwich said that, while the council has voted on the ordinance, the policy could be changed if council members wanted to readdress the issue.
Prestwich said the newly passed B&B ordinance is a separate issue from policy around Airbnb-type rentals, which council members tabled at a March 4 meeting, but will revisit in the future.
In other business, council members reviewed the city's strategic objectives, and approved a limited temporary seating plan for Nevada City's Robinson Plaza.
At a Jan. 28 meeting, the council agreed to place two tables with chairs in the plaza for a trial period from June 1 through Oct. 31 of this year. Council members asked city staff to put together a summary of responsibilities and procedures for the seating, which was reviewed by the council Wednesday night.
"I have supported this project from the beginning," council member Evans Phelps said. "They sit so tucked away so that the plaza is open and empty and anything can go on in that space … I'm glad we're trying something and I'm hoping it will work."
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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