Council Bans Non-hosted Short-term Rentals

(Sally Hogarty, photographer)
a large memorial to the victims of the oct. 31 shooting in orinda covers the old theatre square fountain at Brookwood Road and Camino Pablo.

    Following the shooting deaths at the Halloween night party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, the City Council as expected banned non-hosted short-term rentals (STRs).
    The council unanimously passed Urgency Ordinance 19-08 at its Nov. 19 meeting. The ordinance only allows for short-term rentals (less than 30 days) if the STR takes place on property owned by the host and containing the host’s primary residence. If there are two structures on the property, the host can live in one and use the other as a STR, but the host must be present to monitor and regulate activity. STRs must be for a minimum of two days.
    “We know the two-day minimum may present some problems for hosted short-term rentals that have advance reservations,” said Vice Mayor Darlene Gee. “But we believe this is important for the safety and welfare of our residents.”
    Urgency Ordinance 19-08 is effective immediately and lasts for 45 days. The City Council may further extend the urgency ordinance for 10 months and 15 days after a noticed public hearing and may, subsequently, extend the ordinance for up to two years. The council will use this time to work on a new permanent ordinance regulating STRs. To that end, they plan to have additional meetings for public input.
    Councilmembers asked staff to draft the urgency ordinance at a Nov. 5 council meeting where 50 residents spoke, and an additional 39 people sent emails regarding short-term rentals. The Nov. 19 meeting also brought a good-size turnout with 18 people expressing a variety of views.
    “This was a ghastly tragedy,” said Phil White. “I see many ways to accommodate the problems, but I don’t think that the ordinance proposed addresses the issues. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction.”
    Gee said she thought long and hard about what to do and felt it important “to adopt something now to help keep Orindans safe. We can work on details for a permanent ordinance while the urgency ordinance is in effect. Lots of good suggestions heard here tonight.”
    The Halloween night party took place at a t STR from page 1 non-hosted short-term rental at 114 Lucille Way. According to police, more than 100 young people attended the party, which was advertised on social media. At about 10:50 p.m. shots rang out leaving three dead at the scene, police said. Two more young people died at the hospital, and at least five more suffered serious injuries while fleeing.
    A spontaneous memorial sprang up at the corner of Brookwood Way and Camino Pablo offering condolences to the family and friends of the victims: Javlin County, 29; Tiyon Farley, 22; Raymon Hill Jr., 23; Omar Taylor, 24; and Oshiana Tompkins, 19. A candlelight vigil, organized by Orinda resident Leslie Darwin, was held Nov. 10 at the Library Plaza.
    Mayor Inga Miller, said, “I am very pleased and proud of how police responded as well as the reactions of the Orinda community. It’s nice to see how our community came together over this tragedy.”
    The Contra Costa Sheriff’s office, FBI, San Francisco police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and police in San Mateo, Marin City, Vallejo, Antioch and Orinda continue to work on the investigation. On Nov. 14, police arrested five men in connection with the shootings. Four of the five were subsequently released pending further investigations. “It’s a very complex situation,” said Orinda Police Chief David Cook at the Nov. 19 meeting. “The investigation showed that two gangs were involved: the Haight Street gang from San Francisco and the Marin City Jungle gang. We are all still very involved pursuing a number of leads and interviewing witnesses.”
    The shootings left Orinda residents concerned for their safety, especially those who live on Lucille Way and nearby streets. Elise Torres gave an emotional plea at the Nov. 5 City Council meeting saying, “My family doesn’t feel safe now. They could have shot into my house and killed my babies. We’re all scared and having trouble sleeping, but what can we do? We can’t sell the house. No one will want to buy a house on Lucille Way now.”
    Several residents also questioned why it took the Orinda Police more than an hour to respond to noise complaints by neighbors regarding the party. Dispatch logs show the first complaint came in at 9:35 p.m., but police didn’t respond until almost 11 p.m.
    According to Chief Cook, two officers were on duty but were called to respond to a home invasion robbery in Lafayette involving at least one firearm and the assault of the home’s occupants. Sheriff logs show that the Orinda officers were sent to Oakland to recover a car stolen during the violent robbery.
    “While not insignificant, there were no indications of violence associated with the noise complaints, so the Lafayette call took priority,” Cook said. “The officers had finished and were heading to 114 Lucille Way when they received reports of shots fired. Officers from other locations were also dispatched to Lucille Way, including seven forensics experts who spent 16 hours combing the scene for evidence.”
    Cook noted that if a high-priority call had been received in Orinda while the officers were engaged elsewhere, police units from nearby jurisdictions would have responded as part of a mutual-aid agreement. Cook also said it was very unusual to have two major violent events at the same time in Lamorinda. “Two officers is our usual number on duty, and we’ve never had a problem like this before.”
    Michael Young Wang and Wenlin Luo, owners of 114 Lucille Way, registered their property as an STR with the city in November 2018. On Feb. 11 police received complaints about noise, parking and trash from a large party at the property. The owner received two violation notices for exceeding maximum occupancy and violating STR parking requirements. In July, the city received complaints on overfilled garbage cans. According to police records, the next complaint was the one about noise on Oct. 31.
    Orinda passed its Short-Term Rental Ordinance on Sept. 5, 2017, effective Oct. 5, 2017. All short-term rentals must be registered with the city and pay a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The TOT, which from 2017 to September 2018 amounted to $74,817.68, goes into the city’s general fund. Orinda has 51 properties registered as STRs but only 32 of those are currently actively available for rental. Of these, 21 are hosted and 11 are non-hosted. Staff time to process the registration of STRs is covered by the registration fee paid by the property owner.
    The city contracts with Host Compliance, LLC to help monitor STRs within city limits. Data collected by Host Compliance helps city staff determine whether a listing is active and is hosted or non-hosted.
    When complaints are received, the city sends a courtesy letter to the property owner followed by a Notice of Violation, if one is determined to exist. If the property owner fails to resolve the code violation, a citation can be issued with fines starting at $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third and subsequent violations.
    Beginning Dec. 15, Airbnb said it is expanding manual screening of high-risk reservations.

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
Community members gathered at Orinda’s Library Plaza at dusk on Nov. 10 to remember Javlin County, Raymon Hill Jr., Tiyon Farley, Omar Taylor and Oshiana Tomkins, who lost their lives on Halloween night.
(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Orinda intermediate students conveyed their condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the oct. 31 shooting. their “card” is part of the memorial at Brookwood Road and Camino Pablo.

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