The Kenwood Press
News: 05/01/2017

Neighborhood asks for ban on new vacation rentals

Alec Peters

Residents on Slattery Road, off of Warm Springs Road where Kenwood turns into Glen Ellen, are asking the county to prohibit any new vacation rentals on their street.

Homeowners of 17 parcels on Slattery Road, a private road, would like an “X exclusion zone” placed over their properties, an avenue made possible when the county approved changes to the county’s vacation rental ordinance last year.

The county’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the request on May 4, 1 p.m., in the hearing room of the Permit and Resource Management Department, 2550 Ventura Ave., in Santa Rosa. The matter will eventually have to be heard by the Board of Supervisors.

Last May, supervisors approved X zones on over 6,000 parcels in Sonoma County, mostly properties zoned R1, a low-density residential designation. County code states that the purpose of R1 is to protect residential character and “promote and encourage a suitable environment for family life.”

That action affected areas in Sonoma Valley, including about 300 parcels in Kenwood and over 600 in Glen Ellen.

The stated purpose of the X zone is to prohibit new rentals in areas that meet certain criteria, such as inadequate road access or off street parking, potential of significant fire hazard, and where housing stock needs to be protected from conversion to visitor-serving uses. Additional considerations include bans in areas where residential character is “to be preserved or preferred.”

In its application, Slattery Road owners point out that the 1-mile-long road is narrow, single lane, winding, with limited turnouts, and does not meet county private road standards. Increased traffic due to vacation rentals would compound the road’s problem, the application states.

In addition, the property owners argue that there is already a significant fire hazard, and there is no second egress to allow for evacuations during emergencies.

It is also argued that the rural character, which the owners wish to preserve, would be undermined by short-term vacation rentals.

Questions about the application can be directed to county planner Brian Keefer at 565-1908, or Brian.Keefer@sonoma.county.org.