Short Term Rentals

Short-term rentals are becoming more and more of a concern here in Roberts Creek. This is my position on the issue.

Currently the SCRD has introduced bylaw amendments to Zoning Bylaw No. 310 and Zoning Bylaw No. 337 to set out a definition for STR, meaning the rental of whole or part of a dwelling for periods of less than 30 days.

The Roberts Creek Official Community Plan policy 6.3.3 states that short term home rental where the owner or property manager is not present shall be discouraged. I would ask the Official Community Plan Committee to reconsider this, weighing the benefit to the community vs the problems created by absentee owners of STRs to state that the property owner MUST live on the premises as required for B&B operations.

This would eliminate absentee ownership, which is not healthy for a community. It would also discourage speculation, where off-Coast people pay high prices for property and then let commercial use make them a profit while they wait to flip it.

It would also make it easy for both neighbours and the bylaw officer to contact the owner when problems arise and it would compel the owners to actually live with the “nuisance” they create.

SCRD staff recommend that STRs be limited to no more than one dwelling on a parcel and I agree with that.

Zoning Bylaw No. 337 limits the number of B&B guests at two per bedroom with a limit of two bedrooms allowed in a B&B Home and five bedrooms in a B&B Inn. Consideration should be given to establishing a similar guest limit for STRs in Zoning Bylaw No. 310 and incorporate parking requirements.

Zoning regulations set out for B&Bs regulate maximum sign size and septic field capacity. These issues should apply to STRs and we must also consider water requirements. So I think the best step going forward is to incorporate Temporary Use Permits (TUP) which are renewable every 2 years and renewal is not guaranteed. Again, this would reduce the appeal for speculators but be less of a strain on our staff resources than an annual renewal. TUPs will provide the SCRD with a record of STRs and allow for targeted enforcement of infractions and dissemination of guidance to address nuisances.

The Roberts Creek OCP identifies the Village Core area and locations nearby as appropriate for slight increases to commercial activity, such as allowing an additional bedroom for a B&B. This zoning would then be appropriate for STRs as well.

Temporary rentals, which violate the zoning bylaws, need to be fined the maximum allowable - up to $5,000 per month of operation or part thereof. That’s my number and my opinion. If the area is not zoned to allow STRs, then they must not be allowed. The TUP process gives everyone a chance to do this legally. In order to enforce our bylaws, we are going to need more staff, which is a cost to the community.