After much ado about events in the rural Adelaida area west of Paso Robles, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors gave planning staff a unanimous go-ahead on July 13 to develop an ordinance to regulate both rentals and events in the area.
It would limit the number of vacation rentals and require that events at those rentals obtain a conditional use permit. The decision follows outcry from Adelaida residents who say unregulated vacation rentals have allowed for large events to be held in the area without any review or permitting requirements.
Normally, special events or gatherings at wineries—also a sensitive issue in the area—require public review and a permit. But several property owners have been able to turn their barns and houses into events facilities without permits because of a loophole.
Concerned residents have said those events add to excess traffic and noise, and the cumulative impacts are overwhelming.
Vacation rentals are private home rentals in which renters rent part or all of an apartment or a house, often using a third party internet website like Airbnb or VRBO. They’ve become popular lodging for traveling families or groups. Locally, they’ve also been used for weddings.
Earlier this year the Planning Department presented a draft inland vacation rental ordinance that would apply to all inland areas of the county. A coastal vacation rental ordinance is already in place. That proposal received pushback from the wedding and events industry, which said further events restrictions would stymie a growing economic engine in an area that’s become a national wedding destination.
The board voted 4-1 in February to postpone further consideration of the ordinance and directed staff to spend more time gathering local input on the draft ordinance. As a result, the Planning Department drafted an ordinance specific to the Adelaida area.
During the July 12 hearing, no one from the wedding and events industry was at the meeting. Regardless, the economic benefits of the events were not lost during the discussion.
“We all knew at the beginning of this process that we had a saturation issue,” said Cheryl Wieczorek, who noted that there are plenty of compliant venues already. “What you have to understand is the idle capacity that’s sitting out there, that’s not even getting used … . We are not taking away their jobs; there are plenty of venues for these weddings, and appropriate venues.”
The draft ordinance will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and return to the board later this year.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay