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BIG Zoning Changes This Week

New zoning will ban vacation rentals in Sonoma County.

 OPEN HOUSES THIS SUNDAY 1 to 4 p.m.  unless noted

$495,000, 904 Garden Court, Healdsburg, 3Bdrm, 2Bth Century 21 Healdsburg

$570,000 1003 Sunset Drive, Healdsburg, 4Bdrm, 2Bth, Wine Country Group 12-4 PM

$379,000. 544 Westmont Court, Healdsburg, 3Bdrm, 2.5Bth, Full Spectrum 12-3 PM

$459,000. 1716 Spur Ridge Lane, Healdsburg, 3Bdrm, 2Bth, Coldwell Banker

LIA Zoning Update

Zoning of “Vacation Rentals” in Land Intensive Agriculture has taken a big hit in the past year -- and there is more in store.

In October 2010, there was an announcement that the Sonoma County Permits Department had made a change in what was acceptable on LIA lands in Sonoma County. Because LIA has the word agriculture in the name, PRMD decided to not to allow vacation rentals on those lands anymore. Northern Sonoma County has the bulk of these and will be hit the hardest.

Within one week of that announcement your local realtors put together a task force with experts from the local level all the way up to and including the National Association of Realtors. There were many meetings regarding this and it was quite a contentious situation.

In January, we heard that the Board of Supervisors had adopted the new policies. There was an appeal made and that new ruling had been put on hold until now.

 This week, we learned that  compromise has been reached and it is awful. Beth Bruno of stated last week at the local MLS meeting  that “this is the equivalent of our private property rights being taken way,” she said.

Bruno has been a driving force representing local Realtors and you at the government level for more than 15 years.

The compromise is this: The PRMD is going to ”open Up” 50 new properties to allow vacation rentals on LIA zoned land on lots that are under six acres. They will allow anyone to file for the permit before Jan.1, 2012 for this new zoning.  All other vacation rentals on LIA land that are not grandfathered in will have to be closed.

In the past, vacation rentals were allowed on any LIA land. There are approximately 3,500 parcels of LI-zoned land that are over six acres in Sonoma County and which may not be allowed to have vacation rentals after the next vote on this issue.

If this compromise is not reached and there is a public meeting next week, all LIA-zoned vacation rentals may be shut down. That meeting will be at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday at 2:10 p.m.

LIA lands have had a wide scope of use in the past and allowed a lot of different uses. The basic LIA-zoned land could be what you have today if your property has grapes, a house and maybe a couple of other buildings on it and you are in the county.

Quite a few of these that are over six acres have a vacation rental on them and have not posed a problem as far as noise, traffic or other problems. There was extensive negotiations regarding these properties last year. Those negotiations addressed these properties in regards to vacation rentals and the end result has been that they are able to operate without an adverse reaction from their neighbors.

Let’s say that only third of the LIA-zoned vacation rentals above six acres have a vacation rental on them. That would be 1,166 vacation rentals.

Let’s say they bring in $150 a night in rental income. That is $174,000 in fees and that they pay 10 percent Transient Occupancy Tax to the county. That is a huge amount on lost revenue to our already struggling economy.

Keep in mind that these new rules were up in place by the PRMD . The PRMD’s primary job is to assure that any “health and safety” issues are addressed during the construction process. It is the Board of Supervisors' job to address zoning.

Please attend the meeting next week and let your opinion be heard. It is currently scheduled to take place at the Board of Supervisors Chamber’s next Tuesday at 2:10 p.m.

I anticipate that they will have to move it to the Veterans Building to allow room for the crowd this will draw.

On A Lighter Note

Last Thursday, the North County Association of Realtors held their annual golf tournament at Tayman Park in Healdsburg. Approximately $11,000 dollars were raised. This money is donated to the Meals on Wheels program and the A check for $5,000 dollars was presented to the Healdsburg Food Pantry last Saturday.

Tom November 13, 2011 at 04:37 PM
I thought the job of proper journalism was to remain neutral and not advocate a position. Asking people to attend a meeting rather that just give time, location and date sure looks like a one sided article.

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