By Deb Murphy

Inyo County’s short-term rental discussion made the rounds of community workshops last summer. The next step: an ordinance was drafted taking into consideration community concerns and went to the County’s Planning Commission.

With a few changes, that ordinance will be the topic of an 11 a.m. timed item on today’s Board of Supervisors’ agenda. Planning Director Cathreen Richards feels the ordinance finds “the sweet spot,” balancing the economic benefit to residents looking to rent out a room or guesthouse to tourists with their neighbors’ fear those tourists will be the equivalent of the Wild Bunch.

Short-term rentals, commonly referred to as Airbnbs, are defined as stays of less than 30 days. The practice was banned in 2006 but with the growing popularity and existence of these rentals despite the ban , the issue came back to the Board last year.

Like the City of Bishop’s recent ordinance, the County’s regs allow for Airbnbs but with a list of requirements to reassure the neighbors’ peace of mind.

Here’s a brief overview of the ordinance:

  • Short-term rentals will be allowed in the following zones: Open Space, Rural Residential, Rural Residential Starlite, One-Family Residential, Single Residence Mobile Home Combined.

  • A host (presumably the owner) or manager has to be readily available to handle questions or complaints and provide a contact number to the Planning Department and property-owners within 300-feet of the property.

  • Only one rental per parcel will be allowed for both hosted or non-hosted rentals. No more than five guestrooms per dwelling unit will be rentable with only two adults per guestroom.

  • Permits, off-street parking and trash bins outside public view will be required.

  • Quiet hours run from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.; outdoor amplified sound is never allowed.

  • Short-term rentals are subject to the Transient Occupancy Tax.

  • Hosted rental permits will be processed through the Planning Department; non-hosted permits have to go through the Planning Commission.

  • Complaints on non-hosted rentals have to be corrected within 90 minutes or 45 minutes during quiet hours.

The full ordinance and results of the community workshops are available in the Board packet on Inyo County’s website.

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