Letters to the Editor

California Hotel & Lodging Association wants level playing field with county’s short term vacation rentals

NOTE: Copy of July 12 letter sent to the Madera County Board of Supervisors

The California Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA) urges you to consider a different approach in amending the county’s short-term rental ordinance. Legalizing commercial rentals in residential areas of Madera County is not sensible as it will affect neighborhood character, eliminate affordable housing, decrease public safety and put any guests that are staying in a short-term rental at risk.

The lodging industry does not shy away from competition with the short-term online rental market. Commercial short-term renters, some of which control dozens of properties in Madera County, are engaged in unfair and often illegal competition with the hotel industry.

The problem is commercial short-term rental operators who create ghost hotels are taking advantage of online sites that let them cover their tracks and evade the rules. They cheat the county out of taxes, disrupt neighborhoods, make a mockery of zoning laws, skirt ADA and anti-discrimination regulations, potentially putting neighbors at risk and put good paying hotel industry jobs at risk.

Madera County hotels are an important part of the local economy. They employ residents with good, steady jobs and pay taxes that help pay for services like police, fire, parks and schools.

To make it clear, our industry does not oppose short-term rentals. We support residents sharing their own residence from time to time to help pay the mortgage or a credit card payment.

CH&LA supports an ordinance that would place limits on short-term rentals in residential areas of Madera County including a rental day cap, ban on renting out an entire home, business license, safety inspections, and ensuring that transient occupancy tax is paid.

Implementing these measures into the ordinance would protect the ability of homeowners to engage in reasonable home-sharing activities while protecting residents from the disruptive commercial rentals.

Competition in the industry helps drive innovation and creates new models in how hotels can better serve their guests. In competing with short-term rentals, we simply want a level playing field that will allow our industry to compete without facing a competitive disadvantage.

Lynn S. Mohrfeld, president & CEO, California Hotel & Lodging Association, Sacramento