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Short-term rental owners, neighbors make their cases before Santa Rosa city council votes on cap

Santa Rosa lawmakers vote to limit short-term rentals
Santa Rosa lawmakers vote to limit short-term rentals 02:07

SANTA ROSA (KPIX) -- Following a surge of applications and complaints about short-term rentals, Santa Rosa lawmakers voted on whether to put a cap on the number operating in the city.

Tuesday night's city council meeting was already heated after hours of public comment preceding the vote. Finally, the council voted to adopt an urgency ordinance limiting the number of short-term rentals to 198. 

It was a tense evening. The issue has created a great divide among neighbors.

"My problem is I moved into a residential neighborhood and now I live next to a hotel," said resident Bernadette Burrell.

She was one of many residents who spoke against non-hosted short-term rentals. 

Burrell adds, "Everyday is a stress. It's who's going to be coming, what are they going to be doing. We've been yelled out, we've been cursed at, we've been screamed at."

The city council chamber was filled with fellow residents who support Burrell. Signs displayed on seats said 'homes not hotels.'

"The non-hosted situation is a problem," said Dale Sessions with Save our Santa Rosa. "There's no way to really control it except stop it, just ban it all together."

The concerns raised centered around safety during wildfire events, the impact on housing stock and the nuisance to neighbors. 

But owners of short-term rentals also made their case.

"I'm just being harassed. It's just unbelievable," said Harry Albers, a short term rental owner.

Albers says he rents out his home to help his daughter pay for medical school. He contends his neighbors have harassed his renters to try to drive the renters away.

"It's horrifying. And when I hear this is happening to them, it's really painful," Albers says.

Short-term rental owners feel they are being targeted for a few bad incidents that have occurred in the city. They believe the ordinance will not solve the issue. 

"I feel like they're trying to solve a problem that really doesn't exist," said short-term rental owner Gary Lentz. "We can work collaboratively with people having the problem. It's almost unenforceable what these people are trying to do."

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