Letter to the Editor submitted by Ann Tozier and Joe Blommer
Mono County Planning Commission
May 14, 2015
Due to the magnitude of the potential negative impacts to my neighborhood, I (Ann) have taken a half day off from our fulltime job to attend this meeting in opposition to the proposed TROD for six parcels in the Clark tract. My husband and I live above the parcels in the proposed General Plan Amendment, and we believe such a designation would be inappropriate and troublesome. Although our property does not directly adjoin any of the parcels in question, we are aware that some of our neighbors have already had conflicts with at least one of the properties, one that we are aware has been conducting illegal short-term rentals for many years, blatantly advertising with a listing on VRBO.
Some of the reasons why we feel this way follows:
1. As we mentioned, we have become acutely aware that some of our neighbors have been negatively impacted by the illegal rental activity that has already occurred. We support our neighbors, and the character of our neighborhood is highly important to us. Furthermore, we would not want to be subjected to similar experiences by future TROD which might directly adjoin our home.
2. Our neighborhood is designated “SFR”, single family residence, not commercial, resort or otherwise. The reason we live here, and we can assume also the reason why our neighbors live here, is to enjoy a quiet, peaceful community environment. We have consciously chosen not to live in a “mini-hotel” district, as these short-term rental areas are popularly referred to.
3. We have no road maintenance in our area because the roads are deemed unsuitable for county maintenance, or so we have been told by county officials. Even though we do not own the roads, they are called “private roads.” The snow removal and any maintenance is up to the residents, and snow storage and parking is minimal because of the narrowness of the roads. As a result, our roads are not well suited for short-term rental properties which often rent at such high prices that they may require multiple families at one time to occupy them ($600 per night, as we can see looking on VRBO for the listing mentioned earlier), resulting in multiple vehicles needing parking. The particular VRBO listing noted actually offers “parking, parking off street and parking for RV/boat/trailer.”
4. As stated, we are not living next to these properties directly, but living above and looking down on them, and have observed, in the six years we have occupied our home, that there is no regard to the “dark sky” concept… their outside lighting is on all the time. People that live here fulltime seem to have more regard for the importance of the dark night sky. In conjunction, we do not believe that short-term renters would have the same awareness and regard for other issues particular to our area, such as wildlife and snow storage.
5. In theory we have supported the concept of the TOT overlay, as long as it is suited for the community in which it is placed, and most importantly, in an area where property owners agree that this is what they want. In talking with our neighbors this is not the case in the Clark tract. There are apparently a few fulltime residents who feel otherwise, but there is a predominance of ones who are very much against it. We feel it is extremely important for the County to acknowledge and respond to their feelings. Again we reiterate that this is not about NIMBY-ism; we do not support short-term rentals in our neighborhood because we do not think they belong here, however, we would be supportive of them wherever there is a community in agreement that wants them. We do not agree with forcing this on any community where residents take issue with it.
6. As we remember, this TOT overlay concept arose out of the perceived need, by a few, for more warm beds in June Lake. We would however be shocked to find out that there was ever100% occupancy of existing hotels and motels in June Lake, other than perhaps during some of the major holidays. As a result, we see that TROD designations in the Clark tract, and actually anywhere on the loop, could take away business from some of the local establishments like the Double Eagle Resort and the Whispering Pines.
7. We have seen information posted online that points out other issues with short-term rentals, which can also have relevance here. Hotels and motels are subject to numerous health and safety requirements, as well as ADA compliance standards. Short-term rentals are not subject to such regulatory programs and may not provide the same level of safety for renters.
8. In our search for information on the topic at hand, we came across a law suit that occurred in Carmel where the owners of single family homes brought suit against the city challenging the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance which prohibited vacation rentals from operating within residential properties. The Court of Appeal resoundingly rejected the plaintiffs’ claims. And in quoting the article, The Court recognized that residential character of a neighborhood is threatened when a significant number of residences are occupied not by permanent residents but by a stream of short-term visitors. “Such rentals undoubtedly affect the essential character of a neighborhood and the stability of a community,” because such visitors “have little interest in the public agencies or in the welfare of the citizenry.” Carmel’s ordinance precisely sought to remedy such ill effects of vacation rentals, which was a proper exercise of the City’s police powers. Similarly, numerous other courts throughout the Country have similarly upheld local vacation rental prohibitions.
In summary we are hoping that the Planning Commission will reject this proposed General Plan Amendment, instead wishing to be sensitive to the needs and opinions of many of the fulltime residents currently living in the Clark tract who do not want to live in an area of short-term rentals. Furthermore, we would like to respectively request that notification of future General Plan Amendments be mailed out to residents sooner than 10-15 days prior to the hearings. There were other of our neighbors who wanted to attend this meeting, but made plans prior to receiving notification. Perhaps a month ahead would be much better.
Thank you for considering our concerns,
Ann Tozier and Joe Blommer
Ann Tozier planned to read this letter at today’s meeting.