SANTA CLARA — Depending on who you ask, short-term rental homes in Santa Clara can either ruin the “neighborhood feel” or bring more economic development to the city.
The Santa Clara City Council on Wednesday debated options for whether or not to expand areas in the city for vacation homes and short-term rentals. Despite the nearly hour-long debate, council members didn’t make any motions to change how short-term rentals are handled in the city; a decision won’t be made until later.
As it stands now, short-term rental homes in Santa Clara are allowed if they abide by a strict set of rules and are approved by the city. There are also a couple of areas in the city, like Paradise Village, that are zoned for short-term rentals.
However, many Santa Clara residents have complained to council members about increasing short-term rental home areas in the city, Councilman Herb Basso said at Wednesday meeting.
One of the biggest problems people have with short-term rentals in Santa Clara is how the short-term rentals disrupt the “traditional neighborhood,” where everyone knows everyone on the block, city manager Edward Dickie said.
“You may not have that neighborhood feel, but I talked with some folks who were opposing (short-term rentals), and I asked them straight out, ‘Who lives down there?’ They didn’t even know their own neighborhood,” Basso said. “So I’m not convinced there will be a big issue for people losing that neighborhood feel.”
Some people in Santa Clara have also raised concerns that short-term rentals in the city could bring additional traffic and crime. However, since the short-term rental community Paradise Village was built two years ago, “police have not been called out there once,” Dickie said.
“Crime doesn’t seem to be a factor at all with short-term rentals.”
Councilman Jarett Waite said he was concerned about short-term rental homes in Santa Clara eventually taking over all land that could be developed with homes for full-time residents.
“I know it’s more profitable for a developer to build something with vacation homes tied to it, but I’d hate to give up the little bit of land we have left so my kids can’t live here someday.”
Short-term rentals help spur economic development in the city by contributing taxes and bringing tourists to the area who spend money within the city, Dickie said. Moving forward, Santa Clara officials and citizens will need to decide if they want short-term rentals to be the “niche” of Santa Clara.
“We’re becoming known as the short-term rental city,” Dickie said. “It’s like a business. We’re a bedroom community.”
The city may be more open to allowing short-term rental homes if there are additional stipulations, Mayor Rick Rosenburg said.
He said he’s even toyed with the idea of requiring developers to build a workforce hosing unit for every short-term rental home built. Workforce housing is affordable housing for families and individuals who don’t make enough money to secure quality housing close to a workplace.
“We need some incentive that would bring value to the city and also provide a place for families to come back to,” Rosenburg said. “I don’t want it all to be vacation rentals.”
Probably the most vocal council member against short-term rentals in the city was absent from Wednesday’s meeting. Councilman Wendell Gubler told St. George News in March that “as long as I’m in the City Council, I will always oppose these vacation rental homes.”
Gubler was the only council member who voted against approving a short-term rental home on Santa Clara Drive earlier this year.
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