Mill Valley residents seek short-term rental reform

Fifty-two residents in unincorporated Mill Valley are calling
for changes in county regulations following accusations of
excessive noise and fireworks at several short-term rentals.

“We have had a major problem here on our streets,” said Jeff
Polick, who lives on Loring Avenue in Tamalpais Valley.

After issuing a letter of complaint to the rentals’ owner,
Happy Place 820 LLC, a group of residents is scheduled to meet with
Marin County supervisors on March 12. They will discuss adding
specific restrictions to the county’s ordinance concerning
properties rented through Airbnb and similar services.

Supervisor Kate Sears said she is looking forward to discussing
solutions with the neighbors.

“At its inception, the County’s short term rental regulation
was set up as a two-year pilot program, ending this summer,”
Sears wrote in an email. “As a result, the neighbors’
constructive advice about what worked and what didn’t is both
welcome and well timed.”

The scheduled meeting was spurred by a letter sent to the
county’s code enforcement division and the property owners. The
letter, written by attorney Daniel Schwartz and backed by the 52
residents, requests that the county shut down the short-term rental
property on 391 Loring Ave. or force its owners to rent the
property long term.

The letter alleges that the corporation is violating county code
by renting out entire homes with more than five bedrooms in an area
zoned as a single-family district. It also alleges that the owners
violated an ordinance that prohibits loud and unnecessary noise
between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Most recently, on August 17, 2019, guests of the 391 Loring
hosted a large party at which a group of rappers and a DJ performed
well past the 11 p.m. cutoff for loud noise,” according to the
letter.

Polick said this type of short-term rental could have caused
another tragedy like the one in Orinda, where five people were shot
to death during a Halloween party at an Airbnb rental.

“It’s run like a party house for large groups,” he
said.

Karlein Visage, property manager for Happy Place 820,
acknowledged the incident and said the company has implemented new
rental rules. The rules include no longer allowing guests to check
themselves in using a lockbox, a two-night minimum stay over the
weekend and no large events without prior approval.

She said the company also installed security cameras and noise
detecting devices.

“We have implemented things to minimize the impact on the
neighborhood,” Visage said. “We follow all rules in Marin
County. We are respectful to neighbors and we don’t want rap
parties in our property.”

Despite the changes, the neighbors still feel there is not
enough to ensure that these incidents won’t happen again.

Stephen DeLapp, who lives on West California Avenue, said more
regulations are needed to mitigate companies coming in, purchasing
properties and potentially changing the small rural character of
Tam Valley while endangering lives with fire dangers and
overcrowded parking from parties.

DeLapp said the neighborhood group realizes that regulations
that work in one place might not work in others and new ordinances
must be administered in zones.

“The county may say that’s a lot of regulatory work, but
it’s not unheard of,” DeLapp said. “We’ve been researching
what other places have done. We came across how Cambria, in these
neighborhoods close to the ocean, regulate two or three blocks and
what those look like compared to neighborhoods further away from
the ocean.

“You can certainly do it, that’s what we want to work on
with the county, besides putting teeth on regulations.”

The properties owned by Happy Place 820 include the six-bedroom
home on Loring Avenue, a seven-bedroom home at 473 Panoramic
Highway, another seven-bedroom home at 820 Edgewood Ave. and a
three-bedroom home at 30 Rose Ave., according to the county
assessor’s office. The total value of the homes is about $9.6
million.

According to listings on Airbnb, the Loring Avenue house is $800
a night while others are about $1,200 a night.

Since July, there have been six complaints about 391 Loring Ave.
and four complaints about 473 Panoramic Highway, sheriff’s Sgt.
Brenton Schneider said. He said the most recent complaint was filed
last month.

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Visage, the property manager, noted that since the company began
operating in Mill Valley, it has created jobs by hiring chefs,
landscapers, maintenance workers and cleaning staff. Happy Place
also provides occupancy tax revenue for the county, she said.

“It’s great revenue that goes back into the community,”
she said.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Mill Valley residents seek short-term rental reform