Sonoma County has a new hotline for vacation rental complaints to assist the neighbors of people who rent out their homes, apartments or other lodgings on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo who might need to report vacation rental ordinance violations.
Annoyed neighbors can already complain to the home-share sites, but the county is hoping that having a county hotline at 707-875-6619 can resolve issues such as noise, nuisance or fire pit size faster than through the giant online companies.
“If the designated property manager does not resolve the issue within one hour or 30 minutes during quiet time (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.), a complaint may be submitted by calling the vacation rental hotline,” said the county.
The county defines a vacation rental as the rental of a private residence for periods of 30 days or less.
Tourism is a huge part of the Sonoma County economy. A 2021 annual tourism report done by the county focused on recovery from hits it took due to COVID-19, but the numbers don’t lie. Direct visitor spending in Sonoma County was $1.1 billion in 2020, and that number was down from pre-pandemic 2019 numbers at $2 billion.
Sonoma County’s beauty is a big tourist draw and the county wants that money, but it has had to weigh that against the problems associated with the increase in vacation rentals due to the ease of home-share sites. Sleepy communities can become jammed with cars that park overnight and take up space, not to mention raucous groups with either boisterous children or inebriated partygoers.
In August, Sonoma County updated its vacation rental regulations and capped and prohibited their numbers in certain areas. The regulations will prevent the approval of new vacation rentals in areas that are considered to have an insufficient density of residential housing, including parts of the unincorporated communities of Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton and Guerneville.
The ordinance also restricts who can hold a vacation rental permit countywide. Individual people or trusts can hold only one permit at a time, while corporate entities are barred from holding new rental permits, according to the county.