Trinidad Tries To Regulate Vacation Rentals

Tabitha Soden
Mad River Union

TRINIDAD – Three years in the making, Trinidad’s proposed ordinance regulating vacation rentals was once again before the Trinidad City Council at a recent meeting.

Trinidad City Council discussed the Vacation Dwelling Unit (VDU) ordinance, first proposed in 2011, at its April 9 meeting and listened to concerns from owners of such properties.

The ordinance was submitted to the Coastal Commission for certification two years ago and was sent back to the council for discussion in February. Changes were made to the ordinance during February’s City Council meeting and more changes were proposed during the April 9 meeting.

Community members and property managers voiced their concerns over certain requirements in the ordinance.

Jonna Kitchen, the owner of Trinidad Retreats, said she did not support the requirement that all VDUs have a sign in front.

“The signage requirement was a concern because there has been an increased crime rate in Trinidad and in Humboldt County in general, and signs can be a beacon to robbers,” Kitchen said.

Community member Adora King disagreed. “I know that signs in town are not in favor,” she said during the meeting, “but if you do not have a sign on a VDU, how are you going to know? People can look at that and know who to call when you have a problem.”

The off-street parking requirement for vacation rentals was another concern. Kitchen said that her company manages at least one home without a garage and with no access to off-street parking.

“That would basically eliminate that home’s ability to be a vacation home. It’s been a vacation home for five years,” she said.

The council decided to make signage optional and also decided to add an exception clause to this requirement for homes that have been VDUs for at least two years.

The ordinance with the added changes will be voted on at the next meeting.

Mayor Julie Fulkerson said, “The biggest issues from both the neighbors and the people renting are what do you do when the people renting don’t comply?”

The ordinance was originally proposed as a response to disturbances from large vacation rentals. During holidays, there is an increase in tourism and the number of people renting larger houses.

“There are only a couple that seem to be problematic because of their size,” said Fulkerson.

Another issue brought up at the meeting was limiting the number of VDUs in Trinidad.

“At what point do we say we have enough?” said Fulkerson. “I mean would we want 35 barber shops in town or 35 bars?”

The changes discussed at the meeting must be approved at the next meeting before the ordinance can be sent back to the Coastal Commission. The council plans for the ordinance to be presented at the Coastal Commission meeting in May at which point they could approve it and send it back to the council for official adoption.

“I hope that we’ll be able to finish it next month,” said Fulkerson.


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