Madera County Counsel Regina A. Garza has sent a response to Fresno attorney Christopher A. Brown who is representing property owners in Cascadel Heights unhappy with absentee neighbors who are making their homes available for short-term vacation rentals.
Brown sent a letter, dated July 19, to Garza and Madera County Planning Director Norman Allinder on behalf of Rick and Kris Hamilton, asking county officials to enforce single-family zoning restrictions, and to refrain from granting business licenses to people who want to rent their homes short-term.
Brown, the Hamiltons and others in the neighborhood contend that short-term rentals (other than a Bed & Breakfast) are not permitted by the Madera County Zoning Code (section 18.10.010), and further contend that the county has a mandatory duty to take action to quell this practice.
In her letter to Brown, Garza said section 18.10.010 was never intended as a restriction on the practice of renting residential property. Unlike Bed and Breakfast operations that require the home owner to reside on site and meals may be offered, the Madera County Board of Supervisors has chosen not to regulate or restrict rentals of single family residential properties, regardless of whether those rentals will be for a short, medium, or long term.
“Given the long history of vacation rentals in the mountainous areas of Madera County, to interpret the Zoning Code in the manner you suggest would lead to a completely unintended result,” Gaza wrote.
Garza wrote that with respect to any possible amendments to the Zoning Code, the county has no intention at this time regulate short-term rentals in any portion of the unincorporated county, including where your clients reside.
“As in most cities and most counties, many property owners in Madera County choose to lease or rent their single-family residences for short periods of time or long periods of time and, as with all such rental properties, there are occasional problems with noise or other types of public nuisances,” Garza said. “ This occurs in all neighborhoods on occasion, not just in Cascadel Heights. Those problems can be handled and regulated or eliminated through the normal and existing complaint process, rather than by imposing an across the board ban.”
Kris Hamilton feels the county response reflects a blatant dereliction of duties for not enforcing zoning laws that prohibit hotel operations in residential-zoned neighborhoods.
Hamilton says short term rental have exsisted in Madera county for some time.
“They are expected business activities in vacation-oriented communities such as Bass Lake,” Hamilton said. “Internet technologies. however, have brought short term vacation rentals where they are not welcome and do not belong. These short term rentals impair home values, disrupt neighbors, amplify fire risks, and create significant health and safety concerns.”