By Deb Murphy
With small, but more restrictive, changes, Inyo Board of Supervisors approved the draft short-term rental ordinance presented at yesterday’s meeting.
The primary change, limiting potential permits to one parcel per owner, came to assuage Supervisor Jeff Griffiths concern that investors in short-term rental units would seriously muck up an already tough housing shortage issue in the unincorporated area around Bishop.
As originally written, the ordinance would have allowed for home owners to apply for short-term rental permits on two parcels, with a limit of one hosted and one non-hosted permit. The Planning Department’s definition of “hosted” is the owner would be under the same roof as the short-term renter—not simply living on the same parcel.
As re-written, one owner/resident could “host” a guestroom in the primary residence and provide a non-hosted granny flat rental on the same parcel.
Planning Director Cathreen Richards described the process as a balancing act between neighbor concerns and an individual’s property rights, plus the fact approximately 50 short-term rental operations are currently operating illegally throughout the county.
During the Board and public comment periods, the intricacy of that balancing act became very apparent. Supervisor Mark Tillemans asked why R2 (multi-family) zoning wasn’t included in the zones where short-term rentals would be legal. Richards’ response: R2 zoning is primarily where long-term rentals already exist. If property owners wanted to convert their second housing unit to short-term, that would reduce an already tiny inventory of available rentals.
Deputy County Counsel John Vallejo put it in legal terms: the ordinance had to be defensible in court.
Some concerns raised during the public comment period could potentially be resolved with variances while going through the permitting process.
In addition, the cost of rental permits would simply recover the cost of staff time according to Richards. Those costs would come before the Board at a later time.
Supervisor Matt Kingsley compared the Board’s approach to short-term rentals to its similar approach to cannabis operations—start small and see how the market shakes out.
The Supervisors are scheduled to enact the ordinance at next Tuesday’s meeting.
In other action, the Board agreed to get an extension until the end of the year on Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District grant funding originally earmarked for the Veterans’ Path in Big Pine and add the possibility of using the funds to pave the parking lot at Lone Pine’s VFW post if an agreement with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on the Big Pine project could not be reached in time.
The Water Department’s grant application to fund the Owens Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan received a draft recommendation for full funding from the state Department of Water Resources. Department Director Bob Harrington cautioned the Board, the funding was still not chiseled in stone. The OVGSA is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon, hopefully, with member agencies coming with decisions on their funding commitments. Even though it’s a “draft recommendation,” it’s still encouraging.
More on both these stories tomorrow.