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.
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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