PD Letter to the Editor nails lax enforcement by county

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/5131577-181/saturdays-letters-to-the-editor

Lax enforcement

EDITOR: The majority of the Board of Supervisors abandoning a meaningful vacation rental policy exposes a countywide failure: increasing land-use conflicts plus the total absence of code enforcement (“Blanket ban on vacation rentals rejected,” Jan. 27).

The Press Democrat reported last spring that code violations are backlogged at 3,500 cases, few are ever enforced, with illegal events and vacation rental complaints having the lowest priority (“More leeway to settle violations,” May 6). A “three strikes, you’re out” policy to deal with bad apples is meaningless when there is no enforcement.

The unfortunate reality is that for many visitors, wine tasting today has become more like bar hopping. Parties head “home” throughout Sonoma County to overnight rentals (frequently unpermitted) and party on. Event planners advertise their businesses with photos of unpermitted rentals on vineyard properties. Cashing in on Wine Country is big business whether it is the burgeoning vacation rentals or the new focus on large events and restaurant facilities in agricultural zones.

A code compliance program would require adequate staffing, including weekends (paid for through permitting, the Transit Occupancy Tax and fines that are actually collected from violators) plus a periodic renewal policy for permit-holders. As public frustration grows, our county supervisors are giving away the farm.

J.M. ZUKOWSKI

Sonoma

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