PASO ROBLES — As an ordinance to regulate short-term vacation rentals begins to take shape, a group of people is organizing to keep them out of residential neighborhoods.
Dozens of people are part of the newly formed Protect Paso Neighborhoods group. It has a website and is asking for people to sign their petition at www.pasoneighbors.org.
Scotty Smith, who is the spokesman for Protect Paso Neighborhoods, said they are not against short-term vacation rentals, but they do want them restricted to certain areas of the city, specifically those that are zoned for mixed-use such as the Uptown/Town Centre, which roughly includes areas about two blocks deep on both sides of Spring Street between Niblick on the south end of town to Highway 101 on the north end of town.
Mixed-use is a blending of residential and commercial buildings and uses, which PPN says is where STRs should be allowed to operate.
“My main goal is to not allow them in the R1 zones, in our residential areas, that’s it,” Smith said speaking for the group. “We don’t care about the commercial zones, the R2s, 3s or 4s that’s all fine and that is really my banner. I think we have had years and years of resources spent in all cities on planning and zoning for these requirements just for this reason.”
Currently, a City of Paso Robles led short-term vacation rental task force made up of citizens has been meeting weekly since Feb. 27 with the goal of submitting an STR ordinance to the city planning commission by April 23.
According to various sources, there are more than 300 licensed short-term vacation rentals in Paso Robles. It’s unclear if all are active and paying transient occupancy tax.
Smith and others have voiced their concerns with the STRs that operate as mini-hotels throughout the city.
He’s concerned that if the City ordinance allows STRs to work in residential or R1 zones, areas for single-family housing and multi-family residences, they will City will have to rezone.
“The City will have to rezone R1 because technically its (STRs) not allowed,” Smith said.
Smith said the group would like to see the City put a moratorium on STRs.
“Just put a hold on it until you figure out exactly what we are doing,” Smith said. “And just get them out of the R1s. There should be a prohibition on STRs in the R1 zone.”
All of the information that is gathered through the PPN website will be presented to City officials.
“The goal is to get as many signatures as we can and to give it to the Council,” Smith said.
Smith said he met with Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey.
“He wants the public to really be involved is one thing he expressed to me,” Smith said.
If STRs are allowed to remain in residential zones, Smith said the group has talked about putting a measure on a ballot or taking the matter to court.
“We want the public to know we are not anti-rental, we are not anti-business, we are not anti-tourism,” Smith said. “We just don’t want it in R1. If they would clean it up out of R1 there would be no opposition.”