‘Short-term rental city’: Santa Clara City Council debates future of vacation homes in city

Stock image shows a key for a short-term rental home | Photo by BrianAJackson via iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

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.

A map of Santa Clara shows several locations of short-term rental homes through Airbnb, a short-term rental home service. There are many more short-term rental homes in Santa Clara, including ones in vacation home communities like Paradise Village | Map courtesy of airbnb.com, St. George News | Click to enlarge

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.”

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

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.

The clock tower at Santa Clara City Hall before the unveiling of the new glockenspiel clock tower, Santa Clara, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | File photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“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.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

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

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9 Comments

  • tcrider July 12, 2018 at 7:41 am

    How about letting the tax paying citizens of the city decide?, the same people that originally purchased homes in a single family residential neighborhood,
    You will have people from outside of St George building these homes with multi units in them for air bnb or other rental marketing orgs. and trying to sneak them in among single family residents like they are already trying to do right now. The people of St George have already made numerous sacrifices because of the
    keep growing mentality of this city, many young people cannot afford rent or housing because of the continuous development of higher end properties.
    How about focusing and helping the people that live in this city?

  • tcrider July 12, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Also Santa Clara is part of St George and short term rentals are illegal in St George.

  • hiker75 July 12, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Home values are higher for income producing properties. It is great news for homeowners until you or a family member wants to buy into the area.

  • justsaying July 12, 2018 at 8:53 am

    To the residents of Santa Clara, if the officials you voted for are not hearing your wishes for a traditional community, then simply vote them out. I don’t feel that any neighborhood should have short term rental/vacation housing. If I remember correctly, that’s what a hotel is for. These rentals aren’t adding anything more to the community than a normal family living in that home would as well. Short term renters come and go with no connection or interest in the community.

  • chris keele July 12, 2018 at 9:46 am

    If you own a home in Santa Clara or St. George, you need to keep yourself, your families, your neighbors, anyone you can, involved in these processes, we have to ” let your voices be heard “. Get up and get involved, attend these meetings and respectfully let your city council know of your concerns, if you don’t take the effort and time to go and attend these meetings you will have no control on the outcome.

  • Kilroywashere July 12, 2018 at 10:41 am

    As a resident of Santa Clara, I think short term rentals are a bad idea. I almost live directly across from an elementary school where little kids walk, bike, and scooter to school in the morning for 3/4 of the year. It is often very tricky to pull out of my driveway and navigate the next 3 -4 blocks especially when school is getting out for 15-20 mins, as streets are full of kids and parents who are there to pick up some of the kids that live further away. These little kids are running freely laughing etc in and out of the street. IT IS A GIVEN. Now bring in a bunch of air BNB renters who just partied the night before, and smoked a legal doobie bought in Mesquite 45 min away who decide to depart at that time to experience Snow Canyon’s trippy desert landscape. What about dogs barking all night, not sure if pets come along with the equation. Let’s add that residential driving in SC is unenforced, speeding is not unusual, and now you are bringing non local driver behavior into the equation. These are specific reasons why it is a bad idea. The major reason is that it affects the local culture and creates an atmosphere where strangers become part of the chemistry of a small town residential neighborhood. This is about $ for a few at the expense of quality for life for the vast majority. You can thank the SC city council when you smell that blueberry indica from your neighbors casita next door. This is a stupid idea. Oh don’t forget the folks that will bring their guns to shoot on the adjacent BLM. Once again, put on your thinking cap, your killing the golden goose.

  • Walter1 July 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    The “Lets Grow until we Blow Rubber Stamp System” of Dixie government leadership is disgraceful to say the least. Vote out the city leaders who will not reflect the peoples will and hire new ones until they start doing what residents want and deserve. No more Pay to Play!

  • Scott July 12, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Short term rentals are probably not as big of a concern to long term trends. Large families are likely to make Washington county much worse in the next 15-20 years. Also, people need to learn to live small and fit into the landscape, instead of making the landscape fit to us.

  • Kilroywashere July 12, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Dear Scott, do you even live in Santa Clara? Next , long term trends are LONG TERM. This is about a change that will occur in the short term, and that can happen overnight. As of now, I can leave my garage door open overnight in Santa Clara and nothing will happen. With short term renters that may change dramatically. Kids often times leave their scooters and bikes on the front lawns for days. WHY THE HELL DO WE NEED TO TURN QUIET RESIDENTIAL AREAS into overnight stays i.e. motel rentals? Why would we want strangers, albiet total strangers in our small town temporarily staying in houses nearby without any idea they are there by local residents nearby? Such activity will not increase local biz, that is baloney. Maybe A little traffic to Harmons, but so what. This is such a dumb a$$ idea, and only profits those who rent out at the exclusion of the vast majority of the residents. The SC council, if they approve this will be destroying Santa Clara for the sake of a few rental bucks. It is one thing where you have a gated community with an association. You can control the renters somewhat and an accountability exists due to the existence of a,communal association. It is way different in an open community. Try getting commercial trucks from not delivering at 3-4 am in the morning in your own residential neighborhood, let alone dealing with an air BNB renter that decides to party all night. You have to do it on your own. Fact. This is a bad idea, and I cant even believe being considered. Must make $$$$ for developers or something.

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