Short-term rental home proposal in Santa Clara sparks debate at City Council meeting

The Santa Clara City Hall building in Santa Clara, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

SANTA CLARA — According to one Santa Clara city councilman, short-term vacation rental homes will “chop up the old Santa Clara” and negatively impact the community. 

The location of a home proposed to allow short-term rentals on the corner of Santa Clara Drive and Heights Drive, which is visible from across the street at the Santa Clara City Hall, undated satellite image | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

During a long debate at the Santa Clara City Council meeting Wednesday, the council members contended over whether they want to allow a home in the city to be able to have short-term rentals, through services like Airbnb, available for vacationers.

The home in question is on the corner of Santa Clara Drive and Heights Drive and is visible from the city hall building.

The property, which includes a pool house, required the city council to approve a small zoning change for it because it was within the Santa Clara historic district.

“As long as I’m in the city council, I will always oppose these vacation rental homes,” said recently elected councilman Wendell Gubler. “I’m just worried about them breaking up the old Santa Clara.”

Santa Clara already has enough vacation homes, Gubler said, and he would regret losing the town’s feel if more short-term rental homes were allowed to operate in the city.

Gubler voted against allowing the home to welcome short-term renters but was eventually outvoted by the other council members.

Councilman Herb Basso also had concerns about the property becoming a short-term rental home because of potentially limited parking on the property and how cars may need to back out onto the busy Santa Clara Drive to leave, but he eventually decided to vote in favor of the zoning change.

The homeowner, Robert Lamoreaux, agreed to warn people who stay at the home about how to safely exit the driveway.

Councilman Ben Shakespeare, who was also elected at the same time as Gubler in 2017, was one of the most vocal in his support for allowing short-term vacation homes to operate in Santa Clara.

“The people who come out and are looking for a (short-term rental home) are people who don’t want to be in a busy hotel,” Shakespeare said. “They bring their mountain bikes, they eat at our restaurants and walk down our streets.”

People who use short-term vacation homes do more good for a city than harm by spending money at businesses in the city and participating in the city’s outdoor recreation opportunities, Shakespeare said.

“These are the people we want to attract,” Shakespeare said.

The city also benefits from taxes from short-term rental homes, city manager Edward Dickie said. 

If another request is brought to the city council to start a short-term vacation rental home, Gubler said he would still definitely vote against it.

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Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • utahdiablo March 4, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    These POS in the Washington city council along with Sitla sold us out here in Washington City with nightly rental homes that we were against from day one even though the fly a highway sign saying the rentals are “approved”, not by us, the annual homeowners who do not want the “guests” who could care less about keeping quiet or the safety of our neighborhoods….so get ready Santa Clara…you will be sold out to the higest bidder

  • Sunfun88 March 4, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Thank you Councilman Gubler for being the only one who truly represents the people in the city. Residents, please pay attention next election. We are tired of being sold out for the mighty dollar.

  • Common Sense March 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

    If you build it “they” will come…

  • statusquo March 5, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Too bad these decisions are all based on tax revenue rather than quality of life for the citizens of Santa Clara

  • justsaying March 5, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Thanks to Wendell Gubler for his efforts. And thanks for posting the names of those who we need to vote out as they obviously are not on the same wave length as the citizens of Santa Clara. Next election replace Herb Basso, Ben Shakespeare, and Edward Dickie, otherwise it’s just a matter of time before they teach Gubler to “play ball” and there goes our quiet little town.

    You want some stranger on a short term rental walking down your streets? Here today, gone tomorrow.

  • PlanetU March 5, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    GREED plain and simple. Look at all the short term rentals by the Ledges/highway 18. They have ruined the desert. All the scraping going on and no tortoises???

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