Vacation rental properties within the City of Mount Shasta's sphere of influence will likely soon be allowed only on properties that are 2.5 acres or larger. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard the first reading of an ordinance that would put that limit in place.

Vacation rental properties within the City of Mount Shasta’s sphere of influence will likely soon be allowed only on properties that are 2.5 acres or larger. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard the first reading of an ordinance that would put that limit in place.

Multiple members of the public came to comment on the item. Mike and Katherine Mason, who operate a vacation rental in Mount Shasta, argued against the 2.5 acre parcel requirement. Mike Mason said the minimum acreage number the county settled on seemed arbitrary, and noted that he didn’t understand the significance of the 2.5 acre number as opposed to any other number.

Mason stated that he also found it unfair that rentals inside the sphere of influence would be subject to the parcel size requirement, but rentals outside the sphere influence but still in the City of Mount Shasta would not be affected.

Mason told the supervisors that if their goal is to preserve peace and quiet within the sphere of influence, there may be better ways to go about it, like implementing quiet hours and limiting the number of cars that can be parked in an area.

Mount Shasta resident Steve Pigoni spoke in favor of the parcel size rule. After listening to audio of the planning commission’s meeting on the issue, he said, he was struck by one of the commissioner’s comments: “To have a good neighbor you need to be a good neighbor.”

Pigoni’s primary point was that many of the people operating vacation rentals in Mount Shasta are not in fact neighbors to other locals. “These people don’t live here,” he said of the rental operators before rattling off a list of the cities in which they live. Carmel, Santa Rosa and Redding were some of the California cities on the list.

Mark Russell, also a Mount Shasta resident, told the supervisors that living in a small neighborhood, he’s had his peace disrupted by vacation home renters who stay in the area and are in “party mode.” Due to lack of code enforcement personnel, he said, it falls on locals to report issues with vacation rentals. “Everyone I’ve talked to feels strongly that we should codify this resolution,” he concluded.

Mount Shasta resident Dan Nelson’s comments to the board were a bit different from those of his peers. He encouraged the board to examine vacation rentals on a case by case basis, rather than codifying a “blanket” parcel size. Nelson, who resides on a one acre parcel, said he would like to be able to rent out the upstairs of his home. “There are places like mine where I’m going to be there and it’s not going to get out of hand,” he added.

When discussion of the topic came back to the board, District 2 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela stated that while vacation rentals can bring revenue to the area, he doesn’t believe the county is currently capable of keeping the vacation rental owners compliant from a staffing and code enforcement perspective. “At this point, I have to support the two and a half acre minimum,” he said.

Valenzuela also reported that there are “hundreds of unpermitted vacation rentals in south county that we can’t even go after because we don’t have the capacity.”

Siskiyou County Community Development Director Christy Cummings Dawson validated Valenzuela’s comments about lack of staff and code enforcement. The county currently employs only one code enforcement officer who is responsible for the entire county, she said. Additionally, Dawson herself will be vacating her position this month as she pursues a separate opportunity.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff explained that while he’s not against vacation rentals, he believes it would be best to have a subdivision strictly dedicated to those homes so that they don’t affect permanent Mount Shasta residents. Kobseff also voiced his support for codifying the two and a half acre parcel size.

District 5 Supervisor Ray Haupt predicted that the vacation rental debate would soon spill over to other areas of Siskiyou County. He said while many people have the “luxury” of a county-maintained road in front of their property, his district is filled with home owners associations and gravel roads. “It wouldn’t be fair to those people to pick up vacation rentals traffic,” he said.

Board Chair Brandon Criss said he views the vacation rental topic as a quality of life issue.

District 4 Supervisor Lisa Nixon was not present at Tuesday’s meeting but had voiced her opposition to the 2.5 acre parcel requirement at the board’s June 4 meeting, noting, “There’s got to be a better way than to just disallow these businesses in one area of our county.”

The supervisors passed a motion on Tuesday to hold a second public hearing for the ordinance codifying the 2.5 acre minimum at its August 6 meeting.

History

Discussion of vacation rentals within the City of Mount Shasta’s Sphere of Influence dates back to 2003, when the former board of supervisors approved Resolution 03-121. The resolution set a minimum lot size for vacation rentals and increased the public notice requirements to include a 500 foot radius and an 1/8 page newspaper ad.

When current county staff looked back at the discussion surrounding the issue in 2003, they did not find any specific dialogue in the record that lead to the establishment of the 2.5 acre minimum parcel size requirement, “but could speculate that there were considerations as to noise, traffic, and potentially a reference to the County’s minimum lot size requirement,” according to Siskiyou County Community Development Director Christy Cummings Dawson.

At its April 2, meeting, the board of supervisors directed county staff to codify the portion of Board Resolution 03-121 requiring vacation rentals within the sphere of influence of the City of Mount Shasta to be on properties of 2.5 acres or larger.

However, the Siskiyou County Planning Commission voted the idea down, citing concerns about the creation of an unfair advantage for vacation rental operators within the Mount Shasta city limits, and a decrease in potential revenue for the county in Transient Occupancy Tax. The item then came back before the board of supervisors.