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Sonoma County to mull vacation rental ordinance update

The Sonoma County Planning Commission will consider updates to the county’s Vacation Rental Ordinance at its March 17 meeting — changes that could further tighten regulations in areas where short-term rentals are allowed.

According to county officials, the proposed changes would create a new vacation rental license permit program, performance standards, enforcement strategies, and permanent caps on vacation rentals in areas disproportionately impacted by vacation rental businesses.

The planning commission's recommendation will then go to the Board of Supervisors for final adoption. “Tourism plays an important role in Sonoma County’s culture and economy, however, an overconcentration of vacation rentals can negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods,” said county Policy Manager Bradley Dunn in an announcement of the meeting. “Permit Sonoma has worked to balance these interests with an updated vacation rental ordinance and program. The updates to the ordinance reflect direction from the Board of Supervisors and input from members of the public.”

Permit Sonoma staff held more than 20 meetings, including with every municipal advisory council in the county, as well as extensive meetings with stakeholders and industry groups, in preparing the updates, according to the county.

The Planning Commission public hearing will be conducted via video conference on March 17 beginning at 1:05 p.m. No in-person commenting will be held. Members of the public may watch, listen and participate in the hearing through Zoom or by phone. Written comments may be submitted at prmd-vacationrentals@sonoma-county.org by 5 p.m. on March 15. The draft ordinance is viewable at sonomacounty.ca.gov/Planning-Commission.

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