Correction: Vacation moratorium does not pass with Siskiyou supervisors

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
McCloud homes and businesses are all lit up for the holiday season.

Correction: A proposed 45-day moratorium on new short-term vacation rental applications failed with Siskiyou County supervisors by a vote of 3-2 on Tuesday. The moratorium needed a 4/5 vote to carry.

Original story

Siskiyou supervisors voted on Tuesday to put a 45-day moratorium on short-term vacation rental applications while county staff collects data for a housing element update required by the state.

While applications are paused, the county can work to update the housing element and at the same time use that information to make important decisions about short term rental policies in the county.

Short term rentals, Airbnbs, Homeaway and VRBO properties provide Transient Occupancy Tax to the county. According to county administrator Angela Davis, these properties brought in roughly $120,000 to county coffers over the past year.

Despite the welcome revenue, some are concerned that the influx of vacation homes means there's less affordable housing for Siskiyou County residents.

District 5 supervisor Ray Haupt and District 4 supervisor Nancy Ogren casted the "no" votes.

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The moratorium would not affect permit applications that are already in process.

"Short term rentals and housing is complex, especially in areas like McCloud where it relies on tourism," said Siskiyou County Planning Director Kirk Skierski. Countywide, there have been 114 short term rental applications approved since 2001, with 56 of those applications in McCloud alone. The moratorium will assist the Planning Department in its collection of data for the state mandated housing element update, which must be completed by November 2022.

The county was recently awarded grant funding to complete the update, which includes a comprehensive study that will provide data the county can use in its creation of a vacation rental policy.

During his presentation, Skierski noted that for the last three years, the planning commission received eight to nine short-term rental permits a year. Prior to that, the county averaged just one application a year.

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"There has been an uptick," said Skierski.

District 3 supervisor Michael Kobseff said he is concerned about the transfer of ownership for a short term rental with a property's sale. Short-term rental permits can be transferred between property owners without reapplication.

"The permit is granted until it is revoked," Skierski confirmed.

"Vacation rentals are not new to the county," said District 2 supervisor Ed Valenzuela. "People are coming and buying homes they are getting turned into vacation rentals, but they're really second homes ... it takes homes away from people who need them."

Supervisor Ogren pointed to the income vacation rentals provide. "I'd just hate to see us stop things in the name of moving forward. I do not disagree with the study, but I hate to see that we are going backwards in order to move forward ...  (vacation rentals) bring people and money here, and that's what we need in this county."

District 5 supervisor Ray Haupt did not favor the moratorium, saying he wants to see more vacation rentals, not less.

Haupt said his district, which includes the western half of Siskiyou, has a shortage of residences for seasonal workers in the community.

"I hear all the time that tourism is the one thing working with COVID this year," Haupt said. "I don't want any barriers for tourism. The study is fine, but I can't see with six permits pending the urgency for a moratorium across the county."