News

Citing housing shortage, Palo Alto eyes new rules to limit Airbnb rentals

City Council members propose restricting short-term rentals in which owner is not present

Homes on Cornell Street between California and College avenues in Palo Alto on Dec. 6, 2022. The neighborhood includes numerous short-term rentals, according to Airbnb. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

From its ad, the Downtown North apartment looks clean, spacious and inviting, with a smart TV, a fully equipped kitchen and living room decor described as "sophisticated."

At a time when Palo Alto is struggling to add new housing, the one-bedroom unit would surely be in high demand by Stanford University students, area employees and local seniors looking to downsize.

But like hundreds of other dwellings throughout the city, the apartment is not on the rental market. It is listed on Airbnb by a host, Blueground, which has 52 listings throughout the city. All of them are entire homes or apartments, according to the website Insideairbnb.com, which tracks short-term rentals.

Three other local hosts each have 20 or more listings, according to the site, with rentable homes and apartments scattered around downtown, College Terrace, Midtown and other neighborhoods.

The exact number of short-term rentals is difficult to gauge, but according to websites like Granicus and Inside Airbnb, which track the market, there are between 500 and 1,000 short-term rentals throughout Palo Alto. Many which fetch more than $300 per night. This may represent brisk business for property owners and investors, but city leaders increasingly see these dwellings as a problem that warrants tackling.

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Next week, the City Council will consider a proposal from three members — Vice Mayor Lydia Kou and council members Tom DuBois and Greer Stone — to explore new restrictions and requirements for Airbnb and other companies that facilitate short-term rentals of entire homes. In the memo, the three council members note that the city currently has only about 100 vacancies among its stock of 8,057 apartments. By contrast, in September it had 743 Airbnb listings, the memo states.

"We have more units available through Airbnb through short-term rentals than we do as far as just available rental units in the city," Stone told this news organization. "That's a concern. Presumably, every short-term rental unit on the market is potentially a housing unit that someone can be in long-term or permanently."

The memo distinguishes between cases in which a property owner rents out their room or entire unit to supplement their income and those in which investors are "packing in as many bunk beds as possible and advertising these hidden hotels as being 'in a quiet neighborhood near beautiful parks.'"

While Palo Alto already has an ordinance prohibiting rentals for fewer than 30 days, the three council members are proposing additional rules and restrictions. These include requiring property owners to list their rental units in both the city's business registry and its new rental registry, which the council voted to create in September. The memo also proposes that the city revisit its contract with Airbnb, which allows the company to operate but requires it to pay transient-occupancy tax.

Flying under the radar

In Palo Alto, like elsewhere, there are concerns that some of the short-term rentals are falling under the radar and potentially skirting the existing law and using homes and apartments like de facto hotels, though with no taxes flowing to the city and with no accountability to neighbors.

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The three council members point to actions that companies have taken in the past to skirt local laws: hiding identities of hosts and locations of illegal listings, failing to verify hosts' identities and refusing to provide data for enforcement.

"The biggest issue is when there's something being rented short term and there's no one on premise," DuBois said in an interview. "If there's an issue — if there's trash, if there's noise — people don't know whom to contact."

The most ambitious proposal in the council members' memo would effectively ban short-term rentals of entire residences, a move that Carmel enacted in its residential districts. Other jurisdictions throughout the state are considering similar action, in some cases adding moves to improve transparency and in others enacting caps on the number of homes that can be rented out on a short-term basis.

'We have more units available through Airbnb through short-term rentals than we do as far as just available rental units in the city.'

-Greer Stone, City Council member, Palo Alto

Monterey County, for example, is now moving ahead with an ordinance that would limit the number of "commercial vacation rentals" (properties that are rented out more than three times over the course of a year) to 6% of residences in any of the county's planning areas other than Big Sur. The ordinance would also establish new registration requirements. And the city of Pacific Grove has a map on its website showing all the properties that can be rented on a short-term basis.

Not all attempts to regulate short-term rentals have gone as planned. Mountain View enacted in 2019 a new law requiring hosts to register their properties with the city and pay a 10% booking fee. By the following year, only 61 units were registered in a city with 860 short-term rental listings, according to a report in the Mountain View Voice, a sister news organization of the Weekly.

The Palo Alto council last considered the topic of short-term rentals in 2015. While some council members supported imposing new regulations to make sure these properties are paying hotel taxes, the majority ultimately voted not to advance this effort.

DuBois argued that the climate has changed since then, with various companies now specializing in tracking short-term rentals and assisting cities with regulation and enforcement. The memo cites two companies, Granicus and Azavar, as possible partners in the new endeavor.

Stone argued that imposing new regulations would not only increase the city's rental stock and help protect local neighborhoods but also help the city in its economic recovery. The city has long banked on hotel taxes to fund its infrastructure. When people use unregulated short-term rentals rather than hotels, this cuts into a critical revenue source. This is particularly critical at a time when hotels are just starting to recover from the economic pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced occupancy rates to single digits in some cases.

"It comes down to fairness and economic prosperity," Stone said, referring to the memo's proposal to ban short-term rentals when property owners live off-site. "The (short-term rentals) can be a disincentive for new hotels and they can be competing with hotels. This seems to be a more fair compromise to even the playing field."

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Citing housing shortage, Palo Alto eyes new rules to limit Airbnb rentals

City Council members propose restricting short-term rentals in which owner is not present

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 9:06 am

From its ad, the Downtown North apartment looks clean, spacious and inviting, with a smart TV, a fully equipped kitchen and living room decor described as "sophisticated."

At a time when Palo Alto is struggling to add new housing, the one-bedroom unit would surely be in high demand by Stanford University students, area employees and local seniors looking to downsize.

But like hundreds of other dwellings throughout the city, the apartment is not on the rental market. It is listed on Airbnb by a host, Blueground, which has 52 listings throughout the city. All of them are entire homes or apartments, according to the website Insideairbnb.com, which tracks short-term rentals.

Three other local hosts each have 20 or more listings, according to the site, with rentable homes and apartments scattered around downtown, College Terrace, Midtown and other neighborhoods.

The exact number of short-term rentals is difficult to gauge, but according to websites like Granicus and Inside Airbnb, which track the market, there are between 500 and 1,000 short-term rentals throughout Palo Alto. Many which fetch more than $300 per night. This may represent brisk business for property owners and investors, but city leaders increasingly see these dwellings as a problem that warrants tackling.

Next week, the City Council will consider a proposal from three members — Vice Mayor Lydia Kou and council members Tom DuBois and Greer Stone — to explore new restrictions and requirements for Airbnb and other companies that facilitate short-term rentals of entire homes. In the memo, the three council members note that the city currently has only about 100 vacancies among its stock of 8,057 apartments. By contrast, in September it had 743 Airbnb listings, the memo states.

"We have more units available through Airbnb through short-term rentals than we do as far as just available rental units in the city," Stone told this news organization. "That's a concern. Presumably, every short-term rental unit on the market is potentially a housing unit that someone can be in long-term or permanently."

The memo distinguishes between cases in which a property owner rents out their room or entire unit to supplement their income and those in which investors are "packing in as many bunk beds as possible and advertising these hidden hotels as being 'in a quiet neighborhood near beautiful parks.'"

While Palo Alto already has an ordinance prohibiting rentals for fewer than 30 days, the three council members are proposing additional rules and restrictions. These include requiring property owners to list their rental units in both the city's business registry and its new rental registry, which the council voted to create in September. The memo also proposes that the city revisit its contract with Airbnb, which allows the company to operate but requires it to pay transient-occupancy tax.

Flying under the radar

In Palo Alto, like elsewhere, there are concerns that some of the short-term rentals are falling under the radar and potentially skirting the existing law and using homes and apartments like de facto hotels, though with no taxes flowing to the city and with no accountability to neighbors.

The three council members point to actions that companies have taken in the past to skirt local laws: hiding identities of hosts and locations of illegal listings, failing to verify hosts' identities and refusing to provide data for enforcement.

"The biggest issue is when there's something being rented short term and there's no one on premise," DuBois said in an interview. "If there's an issue — if there's trash, if there's noise — people don't know whom to contact."

The most ambitious proposal in the council members' memo would effectively ban short-term rentals of entire residences, a move that Carmel enacted in its residential districts. Other jurisdictions throughout the state are considering similar action, in some cases adding moves to improve transparency and in others enacting caps on the number of homes that can be rented out on a short-term basis.

Monterey County, for example, is now moving ahead with an ordinance that would limit the number of "commercial vacation rentals" (properties that are rented out more than three times over the course of a year) to 6% of residences in any of the county's planning areas other than Big Sur. The ordinance would also establish new registration requirements. And the city of Pacific Grove has a map on its website showing all the properties that can be rented on a short-term basis.

Not all attempts to regulate short-term rentals have gone as planned. Mountain View enacted in 2019 a new law requiring hosts to register their properties with the city and pay a 10% booking fee. By the following year, only 61 units were registered in a city with 860 short-term rental listings, according to a report in the Mountain View Voice, a sister news organization of the Weekly.

The Palo Alto council last considered the topic of short-term rentals in 2015. While some council members supported imposing new regulations to make sure these properties are paying hotel taxes, the majority ultimately voted not to advance this effort.

DuBois argued that the climate has changed since then, with various companies now specializing in tracking short-term rentals and assisting cities with regulation and enforcement. The memo cites two companies, Granicus and Azavar, as possible partners in the new endeavor.

Stone argued that imposing new regulations would not only increase the city's rental stock and help protect local neighborhoods but also help the city in its economic recovery. The city has long banked on hotel taxes to fund its infrastructure. When people use unregulated short-term rentals rather than hotels, this cuts into a critical revenue source. This is particularly critical at a time when hotels are just starting to recover from the economic pain of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced occupancy rates to single digits in some cases.

"It comes down to fairness and economic prosperity," Stone said, referring to the memo's proposal to ban short-term rentals when property owners live off-site. "The (short-term rentals) can be a disincentive for new hotels and they can be competing with hotels. This seems to be a more fair compromise to even the playing field."

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2022 at 9:33 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 9:33 am

Why was this a surprise? Anyone could see that all those rushing to build ADUs was not for granny or for teachers, but for short term rentals.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:04 am
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:04 am

Can we add another choice to the "your community" listings? "Tahoe Lite", maybe?


Citizen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:42 am
Citizen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:42 am

Who owns the property, the City or the property owner? The city wants tax revenues - cui bono -who benefits? City public employees by chance? 'Fair'according to whom?

More coercion from the city rather than economic freedom. Won't work.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2022 at 11:30 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 11:30 am

"The Palo Alto council last considered the topic of short-term rentals in 2015. While some council members supported imposing new regulations to make sure these properties are paying hotel taxes, the majority ultimately voted not to advance this effort."

Indeed it took them long enough but the former pro-development crowd preferred authorizing new offices to make the housing problem work to push up rents for their backers. Given the change in the CC's makeup, this CC better rush through the measure. They might also tackle the problem of ghost houses.


John Mark Agosta
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:02 pm
John Mark Agosta, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Our experience renting a single family house we own in Mountain View reveals that the implementation of the law severely limiting short term rentals is counterproductive. There is a legitimate need for house rentals for less than a month, when a family needs a temporary place during a move or construction, or have kids with special needs -- a house is more convenient than several rooms in a residence hotel. Its disappointing to hear that corporate owners are evading the law and running absentee rentals when we carefully follow the law and provide a personalized, needed service. I would look forward to Palo Alto being more enlightened: 1) more effective enforcement of the tax provisions 2) Requirement of an owner who is accessable within the vicinity 3) definition of short term reduced to less than 7 days rather than 30.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:15 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:15 pm

When PA pushed through its ADU rules even though they couldn't answer most simple questions posed to CC members, they added the provision that the landlords had to be on premises which ignored the reality that many landlords couldn't be for all sorts of legitimate reasons WHILE refusing to adopt common sense procedures like monitoring AirBnB listing and all the newer and even worse "shared equity" timeshare scams prevalent here and all over Napa, Sonoma, etc.

When the rules first were announced, 8 of us compiled a list of about 15 questions for CC and it was truly horrifying that of the 2 CC members who responded, their standard response was, "Good question. We'll have to check on that."


Elaine
Registered user
Los Altos
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:28 pm
Elaine, Los Altos
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Instead of comparing available Airbnb units to available rental units, you should compare VACANT units to available rental units. The city and its businesses would be much better served if you levied a tax on residential units left vacant for longer than 6 months. Neighbors should be eager to help enforce this. When I lived in Palo Alto, my next door neighbor left his house vacant for years and a squatter would come shower there in the middle of the night. Since the value of Palo Alto real estate rises unabated, there is no reason for many investors to bother with rentals right now.


LM
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2022 at 1:56 pm
LM, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 1:56 pm

I was surprised to read the city may NOT be getting hotel taxes from Airbnb listings..since Airbnb collects 20% in "Occupancy Taxes" from each person who books a room! I wonder where that goes if not to pay the city's hotel tax - is it state tax, or does Airbnb pocket "occupancy taxes" collected until such time as a given city starts asking to be paid???


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Dec 8, 2022 at 4:01 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 4:01 pm

I know that Santa Barbara does not allow short term rentals. Seems like a smart thing to do in my opinion.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2022 at 4:19 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 4:19 pm

@cmarg -- Santa Barbara's prohibition of Airbnbs (which I believe was just along the coast) was overturned by a Superior Court ruling.

I don't know the full details, but if you search forAirbnb's in Santa Barbara you'll see plenty.


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:03 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:03 pm

@S. Underwood
Well if they changed it since October in Santa Barbara, then I apologize for the comment. Our experience was that they make you sign a contract for 30 days and then have you cancel after x number of days. And the restrictions on the contract are very specific.
Their motivation for no short term rentals is to have housing for those who work in Santa Barbara -- it was not just for the homes along the coast.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:27 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:27 pm

No need to apologize cmarg. I could be wrong. I just spent a few minutes trying to figure out what's up in Santa Barbara, and it seems very complicated with the Coastal Commission having some power (and wanting to keep vacation rentals), short-term rentals not allowed on certain zoning areas, lax enforcement, and changing rules. Whatever our opinions on what /should/ happen, I think the take-away is that you have to think about your rules and enforcement carefully or you'll end up in a legal and administrative morass.


BP
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:26 pm
BP , Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:26 pm

CC talk as if they can control how many homeowners w/short term rentals would convert to long term rentals.


Noel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:59 pm
Noel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 8, 2022 at 10:59 pm

This article seems to be mixing together a lot of very different issues. 1. AirBnB collects and pays to the City of Palo Alto the same level of hotel taxes that hotels pay (I think now 18%?) for units rented for less than 30 days. The City is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from AirBnB. If there are non-AirBnB short term units that are not paying taxes they should pay back taxes and fines. 2. AirBnB fulfills an important niche for short term rentals of units that have multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, laundry, etc that local hotels either don't provide or for which hotels charge far, far more than AirBnB hosts do. This makes family visits affordable and enables co-workers to live and work together while they are doing business in our area. 3. Some AirBnB units, especialy quietly situated ADUs, work exceptionally well for patients recovering from major operations at Stanford, enabling the patient to stay nearby for emergencies or check ups and have family members live with them during their recoveries. 4. Some AirBnB hosts only rent out their homes when they are travelling themselves for additional income. A blanket ban on short term rental would hurt a lot of people who host on AirBnB to supplement their income - not everyone living here is a tech multimillionaire. A ban would cost the City hundreds of thousands of lost occupancy taxes. If people or companies are in essence running unlicensed hotels, that calls for regulation, all the more so if they are not paying occupancy taxes.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Dec 9, 2022 at 7:45 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2022 at 7:45 am

Airbnb is nothing but trouble. It's unfair to the neighbors to turn your house into a "hotel." It's also unfair to the hotel industry. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Short term rentals are a disaster. Think Orinda 2019 on Halloween night. A mass shooting at a party, where several people died, and others were shot. The neighbors were horrified. The suspects were never prosecuted. "No snitching."

Very preventable.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2022 at 4:37 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 4:37 pm

Another local government overstep…


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2022 at 5:06 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 5:06 pm

How about reducing corporate soulless influence by only allowing TWO AirBnbs/short term rentals per owner.
Corporate investors are not interested in Palo Alto wellbeing whereas individual owners do clearly have an in interest in our community. There’s a difference!


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 10, 2022 at 8:36 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 8:36 pm

While I understand AirbnbB collects occupancy taxes from bookings, I have heard conflicting reports as to how much, if any, of that money AirbnB actually transfers to the city. Unfortunately I also understand the city has no way of even tracking how much occupancy tax AirbnB collects.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 10, 2022 at 8:58 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2022 at 8:58 pm

About four years ago I was curious as to how many full houses (not studio apartments or rooms in homes) in College Terrace were regularly listed for short-term rentals on the AirbnB website. At that time about 25-30 houses appeared to be dedicated AirbnB rentals and available for booking during the following 6-9 months.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 11, 2022 at 3:32 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2022 at 3:32 pm

It's not just AirBnB, it's also VRBO and other similar services. VRBO claims to have 1,000 "vacation rentals" in PA, 500 "short-term rentals" in PA as distinct from all their listings for Stanford.

There are price comparisons for which of the many services are the most cost-effective.

Maybe our highly paid staff could take the time to do the same searches the rest of us. Not rocket science.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:16 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:16 pm

@online name,

“It's not just AirBnB, it's also VRBO and other similar services. VRBO claims to have 1,000 "vacation rentals" in PA, 500 "short-term rentals" in PA as distinct from all their listings for Stanford.”

VRBO also shows 800 listings for a search for “long term” rentals. So, what prevents someone from taking a long term rental and then bunking up a few office mates. That’s not the type of clientele that would even think of paying for a hotel and neither are Stanford students so this idea of getting more taxes with a crack down sounds iffy. The crack down should be focused on overcrowding, garbage, unsafe conditions (fire hazard and crime) and big fines with actual enforcement (hah). Anyway, there’s evidently no market rate studio “crisis” when hundreds of units are available, this should worry developers not the hotels.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:47 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:47 pm

@resid3ent3, right you are. Too bad parking and overcrowding overcrowding have been eliminated as considerations re ADUs, "hacker hotels" etc etc.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2022 at 12:55 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2022 at 12:55 pm

This boils down to trying to regulate bad/selfish human behavior. Those intent on doing something will find a way to do what they want, but maybe this will deter others. The problem is not unique to Palo Alto, but we surely invited some of this upon ourselves when we approved the volume of commercial space w/o requiring the developers of that space to mitigate for housing. BIG mistake that haunts us over and over again.


cid
Registered user
another community
on Dec 13, 2022 at 3:00 pm
cid , another community
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 3:00 pm

I honestly do not see a problem with having an Air B&B home in my neighborhood, with the proviso that the owners clearly state NO house parties, prior to leasing it out. There are three or possibly 4 that I know of in my Moss Beach neighborhood, and only once did I hear loud (drunken) laughing after 11 PM. I called the owner who attempted to call and text them (to no response) and then she offered to drive over to the Coast from Redwood Shores, but I said no, that she should just give them a bad rating, instead. The other properties I am aware of that are or were renting out rooms, or a portion of the house are owner-occupants so no big problem with those long-term neighbors either.
ONE GOOD SUGGESTION WOULD BE TO HAVE OWNERS INSTALL SECURITY SYSTEMS, SO THEY COULD OBSERVE IF SOME GUESTS ARE SEEN TRANSPORTING IN CASES OF BOOZE OR ROLLING IN BEER KEGS ETC. UPON ARRIVAL. IF THEY INSTALL A KEYLESS LOCK SYSTEM, THEY COUKD RESET THE LOCK AND NOTIFY THE OFFENDING "RENTERS" THEY ARE IN VIOLATION OF "THE NO PARTIES" CLAUSE.
A good PR campaign would be to pass out your phone number and let neighbors know that you are hosting a short term rental but want them to let you know if there are any noise (or other) complaints.
I think that some folks just get their panties in a twist when they see different guests coming and going every weekend, despite no noise issues. To those people I suggest: Mind your own business.


cid
Registered user
another community
on Dec 13, 2022 at 3:02 pm
cid , another community
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 3:02 pm

I honestly do not see a problem with having an Air B&B home in my neighborhood, with the proviso that the owners clearly state NO house parties, prior to leasing it out. There are three or possibly 4 that I know of in my Moss Beach neighborhood, and only once did I hear loud (drunken) laughing after 11 PM. I called the owner who attempted to call and text them (to no response) and then she offered to drive over to the Coast from Redwood Shores, but I said no, that she should just give them a bad rating, instead. The other properties I am aware of that are or were renting out rooms, or a portion of the house are owner-occupants so no big problem with those long-term neighbors either.
ONE GOOD SUGGESTION WOULD BE TO HAVE OWNERS INSTALL SECURITY SYSTEMS, SO THEY COULD OBSERVE IF SOME GUESTS ARE SEEN TRANSPORTING IN CASES OF BOOZE OR ROLLING IN BEER KEGS ETC. UPON ARRIVAL. IF THEY INSTALL A KEYLESS LOCK SYSTEM, THEY COULD RESET THE LOCK, AND NOTIFY THE OFFENDING "RENTERS" THEY ARE IN VIOLATION OF "THE NO PARTIES" CLAUSE.
A good PR campaign would be to pass out your phone number and let neighbors know that you are hosting a short term rental but want them to let you know if there are any noise (or other) complaints.
I think that some folks just get their panties in a twist when they see different guests coming and going every weekend, despite no noise issues. To those people I suggest: Mind your own business.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Dec 13, 2022 at 4:17 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 4:17 pm

Tahoe's doing it. Imagine you have slaved all your life to buy a house, in a nice neighborhood, with other similar neighbors who slaved all their lives to buy THEIR piece of the pie. Everything's cool until one day, eight SUV's show up with every manner of recreational toy strapped on or in it, and 30 people pile out carrying coolers full of beer. Spring Break! Vacation from responsibility! Nobody cares about your personal space! And they're only staying for a week! Then, because it gets such a high rating by the marauders, it gets booked solid every day of the year and now you don't live in a peaceful neighborhood anymore. You live at Party Central.

In Tahoe, the visitors have the locals trained to clean up tons of trash after every holiday. And there are a lot of holidays. Palo Alto should be limiting VHR's now, before they have to plea to the neighbors to clean up after people (and their dogs) long after they have littered and split. It will come to that, because there's no "VHR Clean Up Team" on the City payroll and there never will be. PS cid: what's the addy of your VHR?


Jerry
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 13, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Jerry, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 5:00 pm

@cid Great suggestion but it seems somewhat unenforceable with any certainty. There's the paper contract-- and then there's reality. I've never air-bnb'ed myself but I'd have to imagine that there's a contractual limit on the number of people occupying the place during the rental. That doesn't stop the 30 people in 8 SUV's with 16 coolers scenario.

There's a very fine line between kicking back with a few friends and a cooler of Blue Moon vs. a pony keg full of cheap beer and 30 friends. Most people renting an air-bnb don't want to have a clause that stipulates they behave like nuns the whole time. You know the saying, "Party now and ask for forgiveness later."


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:56 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:56 pm

To leapfrom from Jerry's comments about the difference between the paper contract and the reality, there are other unspoken needs that aren't addressed in the contracts. All AirBnB did was create an app. With little to no thought as to how to stay within the legal limits of civility. They are supposed to remit taxes to any city, county, or state that regulates "heads in beds" fees. That's so they can make a contribution to the communities they are turning upside down. Half the time it's not collected properly, like when a "host" rents a house for two people for a week. If the tax is collected at all, it's just for two heads. Not the other 28 that weren't declared before the rental began. Palo Alto (like almost all other cities ABNB "serves") feels an impact on local infrastructure that can't be calculated in advance. And after the horse is gone, nobody is willing to hold anyone accountable for the other 28 friends who joined a couple of revelers and destroyed the peace of mind of most of the neighbors. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe any ABNB renter has offered to clean a yard, or a beach, or trail, that they thrashed during their stay. I say if code enforcement comes to a party, they should look at the contract. If it says 2 renters, then tell them 28 of them have to go, and slap the VHR owner with a bill for $100 for each "extra" head that was left unaccounted for in the agreement. And let us vote as to what the permanent residents want. The City has been kicking this around for about 10 years. It's time to get off the dime.


cid
Registered user
another community
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:05 am
cid , another community
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:05 am

SO, it does sound like a quiet family getaway is tolerable, but a loud, raucous party on the block is what is objectionable to most, and I would agree. In my case I live on a quiet neighborhood street near the Moss Beach Distillery, with two low key Air B&B's on my street, but MOST of the guests simply come and go quietly. The ONE time I heard any noise, it sounded like "hilarious drunken laughter" from one particular female. (We have all been to a restaurant where one table was laughing loudly due to inebriation, with zero regard for the glaring looks from other diners.) The only control I could have resorted to at that point would to have called the San Mateo County Sheriffs. I am not that big of a busy-body.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:31 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:31 am

Airbnb is very unenforceable. The neighbors in Orinda weren't being "busy bodies" when there was a mass shooting that killed 5 people and several others were shot on Halloween night - 2019. There was a "No party" clause, but the woman who rented the house said she had "12 family members who needed a house to stay in because of asthma." The idiot rented to her anyway because he was greedy. If you're renting for one night on Halloween, you're throwing a party. Little did he know there would be a rival gang related shootout in an affluent suburb.

That is why a lot of us are ANTI-AIRBNB.

In most cases I agree with MYOB when it comes to neighbors. Airbnb is an exception. If you bring this crap into any neighborhood, you've made it the neighbors business.


Andy
Registered user
Stanford
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:50 pm
Andy, Stanford
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:50 pm

The solution is not to limit Airbnb rentals, but to INCREASE housing supply and let the market determine the best use case.

Hotels are generally poor quality and high prices...we WANT visitors to bring their money to the region.

Palo Alto should incentivize more ADU's and WAIVE any taxes for Airbnb rentals for a year. If that pushes more people to build, that is a POSITIVE.


Andy
Registered user
Stanford
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:54 pm
Andy, Stanford
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:54 pm

Preventing rare wild parties at Airbnb rentals OR hotels OR someone's own home is not a valid reason to limit increasing supply.

Many Airbnb rentals in Palo Alto are actually startup founders and entrepreneurs coming from all over he world to build their company where they cannot afford more expensive hotels or need multiple weeks or months to start their company.

Those people end up being our future job creators for the region.

We need more, not less, Airbnb rentals AND housing of all types.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 14, 2022 at 3:03 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 3:03 pm

"Many Airbnb rentals in Palo Alto are actually startup founders and entrepreneurs coming from all over he world to build their company where they cannot afford more expensive hotels or need multiple weeks or months to start their company.

Those people end up being our future job creators for the region."

We already have a huge jobs to housing imbalance and your proposal would only make it worse.

And too bad so many startups are only working to automate people OUT of jobs instead of the select few with stock options. Who's bearing the cost of increased homelessness? We the taxpayers are while business and Stanford plead poverty and claim they can't afford to house their own community, keep taking properties OFF the local tax rolls, underpay their nurses, claim their constant expansion never ever adds a single car trip..... blah blah blah.

If the startups can't afford the more expensive hotels here, let them more to where everything's MORE affordable. Right now housing is 10 -- TEN -- times the national average.


MyFeelz
Registered user
another community
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:28 pm
MyFeelz, another community
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:28 pm

I can't figure out why a startup would want to come to Palo Alto, to stay in an AirBnB, bringing unknown pathogens with them and spreading them around, and leaving it to the "housekeeping" department (oh wait, AirBnB doesn't PROVIDE housekeeping services) to sanitize after they've done what ... have meetings that could have been better (and less expensive) on zoom?

Lake Tahoe is a prime example of what used to be a nearly pristine body of water, surrounded by forests, but is now overrun by tourists who have decimated the ecology of marshland amid formerly nourishing mountains (irreparably), destroyed the scenery by burning down the forest (also irreparably) and now there are algae blooms in the water and the land is extremely fragile (rock slides, avalanches, deadwood falling, not to mention the mass destruction of charred remains of trees that were cut this year to remediate the Caldor Fire of 2021).

The stench of burned trees is still evident. The sight is soul-searing. This is what AirBnB has done for the Tahoe community. Add a pot dispensary on every corner and billboards advertising marijuana stores all along the route, and you know what Tahoe is selling. "Come to Tahoe, and get baked while the forest burns". Is that what we want for Palo Alto?

There's no lake here, and no forest. So what in the world could be the attraction, except for unregulated and unenforced unseemly behavior? Are there things you want to do in your own neighborhood that would get you kicked out of your HOA? Well, just bring it to Palo Alto. Our puddles and a tall tree here and there are crying for your company.

PS Towns surrouding Tahoe are begging locals to rent their 2nd and 3rd homes to locals to provide staff who make you those special coffee drinks tourists love so much. No working class stiff can afford to live there.


MyFeelz
Registered user
another community
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:40 pm
MyFeelz, another community
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:40 pm

@Andy, "Those people end up being our future job creators for the region." I tried to look at that through the lens of a Tahoe local might, and I choked on my Sprite. Job creators for the region, my foot. Are you STILL living in the over-inflated ego of a dot-com entrepeneur? Those days are over. Take a walk. Look around at all of the vacant retail and office space. Then, look at the homeless people sleeping on the streets. THOSE were the "job creators" of the future, once upon a time. Now, what are we going to do with them?


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:44 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 4:44 pm

It's wild to see Kou, Stone, and Dubois championing preservation of luxury market-rate housing. The whole first page of their letter was talking about how we're in a housing crisis and STRs cannibalize stock. I'm skeptical that this matters, but it's great to see them being concerned about supply, even at the very tip-top of the market. Such a stark turnaround from all the "we only care about affordable" we've been hearing from this Council for years --while failing to produce much of anything.

Now that we all agree that market-rate housing matters for housing affordability, the obvious next step is to legalize it. Many people don't know that basically all multifamily housing development in Palo Alto is outright illegal unless and until the city creates exceptions on a project-by-project basis so they can happen. They've weakened that a little bit for affordable housing in specific places, but have done nothing for market rate. Now that we all agree market rate is also critical to the health of our housing market, there should be a consensus to legalize it.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2022 at 5:18 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 5:18 pm

@Scott,

“Now that we all agree that market-rate housing matters for housing affordability, the obvious next step is to legalize it.”

There is no housing crisis but the last reason to add buildings should be for startup tourism. What does it matter if the startups are from “overseas”? They are still tourists adding nothing to the City but costs to service them. Grow up everyone, hopefully the demise of SBF will make people think twice about doing so much for these brilliant children.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm

"It's wild to see Kou, Stone, and Dubois championing preservation of luxury market-rate housing."

@Scott, that's absolutely untrue. Stone is a renter and teacher who speaks passionately and often about the need for housing for teachers and other affordable housing projects.

Kuo has long been attacked by the YIMBY's -- literally -- for not backing THEIR push for market rate housing. Read Steven Levy's blog here about why market rate housing is so much more important; it's reflected in the LAW and its what the high-density lobbyists wanted.


scott
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2022 at 6:37 pm
scott, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 6:37 pm

@Online, it is absolutely true. This is from the beginning of their letter introducing the STR crackdown:

"
The cost of rental housing in Palo Alto and the region has soared in recent years as the pace of job growth has far exceeded the rate of housing growth. A large number of housing units have been converted into small hotels through short term rental services, in violation of city ordinances.
...
While the number of housing units varies month to month, for the last year, there have been around 500 Short term rentals1 in Palo Alto with about 375 of those consisting of “entire unit rentals”. This represents 375 housing units which should be housing stock available for long term rental.
"

They're not stressing that they're talking about market rate luxury units, but they *are* talking about market-rate luxury units. In past years I think I would have expected some of these CMs to critique such a policy as "trickle down" or "supply side" housing. They'd stress that not a single AirBNB converted to long-term housing would be "truly affordable."

Water under the bridge. Let bygones be bygones, I say. I'm skeptical that 375 units actually matters. But what's really important, is these three CMs took a brave stand, to say loudly and clearly: market rate housing matters. It's worth preserving. The health of our housing stock depends on it. Their vote is a recognition that supply itself is a tenant protection.

And I'm eager to see where this goes in the next session. If preserving 375 units is good for Palo Alto renters, then building 3,750 units must be 10x better. It's just math.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:21 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:21 pm

The state law requires that only 15% of the huge new housing targets be below market rate and of those, only 5% for "extremely low income" so I don't see how your quote supports your assertion that they're championing the "luxury" market.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:55 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 14, 2022 at 7:55 pm

@Scott,

“And I'm eager to see where this goes in the next session. If preserving 375 units is good for Palo Alto renters, then building 3,750 units must be 10x better “

What about the math that shows there’s vacancies, hundreds of units available to rent with Airbnb and VRBO. Adding thousands of units more for tourists you probably know, won’t lower housing costs, just add more concrete, garbage, crowding, parking problems. Why do we have to invest in short term dwellers, the City loses on short term dwellers, it’s the opposite of economic development. Unless investing in overseas startups counts, no that doesn’t help the City.


Airbnber
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 15, 2022 at 10:39 pm
Airbnber, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2022 at 10:39 pm

Last time I checked, the City of Palo Alto was not on title. People buy a house because of all the benefits it provides, including leasing it for a day or a year. Most visitors would not even come here as hotels are ridiculously expensive ( 800 a night for a nice suite) vs a 300 a night for a small house. People come to the hospital spend money, visit Stanford and spend even more. What's the real problem?? Hotels don't like it but it fulfills a mutually beneficial need and the City has no right to a taking away of our rights. Moscow perhaps, but not Palo Alto.


Noel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2022 at 12:46 am
Noel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2022 at 12:46 am

A well run owner-occupied AirBnB should have little negative impact on neighbors and should be an overall benefit to the community. No one wants their multimillion dollar home trashed, their furniture, walls, floors or possesseions damaged by a bad tenant and therefore will be careful to reject guests with poor ratings. Perhaps people renting out units they don't live in are less careful (or maybe not given house prices!) but people renting out their own home when they travel or renting out a room or even an ADU on their property are going to be very careful

AirBnB provides our community with many benefits. Families having work done on their homes want to live as close as possible to their children's schools during the construction period and hotels are terrible options for them. Similarly families moving to the area who don't yet have permanent housing or who are coming for children's summer camps want a space in which they can maintain a family atmosphere. Families of people recovering from surgery want spaces where they can be with their recovering loved one while staying close to medical care at Stanford. Families visiting for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Stanford graduations and other such want family friendly environments in which to stay, again, not hotels. Start-up companies and visiting business teams often want a place where they can live and work together for a few weeks as they get started or collaborate with local companies. These services benefit Palo Alto residents and businesses as well as visitors.

The issue of housing availability and affordable housing is therefore completely separate from the issue of owner occupied AirBnB.


Airbnber
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 16, 2022 at 3:32 am
Airbnber, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2022 at 3:32 am

Btw, Airbnb already pays the city an Occupancy tax just like every hotel. Once again the city is simply shooting themselves in the foot as airbnb units already generate revenue for Palo Alto, and that would stop if they were long term rentals

Also property is expensive and airbnb helps defray costs if someone can lease there house or for a few months or weekends. Even ours Landlords but real estate for profit and the prices are based upon freedom to do business and meet market demands. Anything else is rent control and will result in lower quality and more poorly maintained rental stock. [Portion removed.]

Last, airbnb already encourages tenants to provide feedback and if there is as much as a leaky faucet, the owner will fix it asap or risk a bad reputation.


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