An ordinance to regulate vacation rentals in the county was approved Tuesday by a 4-1 vote of supervisors. The result is still a bit fuzzy, but the big piece of the pie fell into place -- that vacation rentals now will be regulated.
The regulations are more stringent in Live Oak, where full-time residents are particularly up in arms about late-night disturbances from partying visitors. Many neighbors testified that late-night noise can go well into the early-morning hours. One resident even said that a confused renter actually came in one night and got in bed with him.
The ordinance will also place vacation-rental units under more regulation outside Live Oak -- but not to the same extent. For example, in Live Oak, vacation-unit landlords will have to reapply for permits every five years. Outside that zone, however, units once given a permit will keep them forever -- unless, presumably, major complaints are filed.
Still, in areas outside Live Oak, neighbors within 300 feet will be notified whenever someone applies for a new permit. And, other regulations will apply, including the posting of a telephone number that nearby residents can call in the event of a problem with vacation renters.
Tuesday's board meeting was comparatively sedate, compared to earlier hearings on the matter. Some opponents say that no regulation is necessary at all -- and that private property rights should prevail.
But by a 4-1 vote, the board drew a clear distinction: that vacation rentals are, indeed, a business and as such ought to be regulated.
Although the board voted to enact the new ordinance on an emergency basis immediately, the wording of it all will nevertheless be tweaked. The matter was referred to the county Planning Commission for its next meeting on April 13. And -- eventually the entire thing will have to meet with the approval of the Coastal Commission.
In the meantime, remember that regulators might be watching the next time loud vacation renters peel off their clothes, pour themselves some wine and jump into a hot tub at 2 in the morning.