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Letter To The Editor: Use STR Tax For Fire Safety

The Madera County Board of Supervisors will vote on a change in the wording of the current residential zoning code on July 18.
If approved, the change in the code will clarify the county’s position on allowing Madera County residential homeowners to rent their homes to vacationers.

The current policy and practice has been to look at short-term rentals as a permitted single family use. The proposed amendment will clarify the current policy by codifying short-term rentals as a permitted use in residential zone districts.

Approval of the proposed code change will likely create a boom in STR’s in the area. Most home owners, hosts and property managers follow simple guidelines in order to attract quality guests. These guests usually own homes and live in neighborhoods were properties and neighbor’s rights to quiet enjoyment are respected.

Some home owners, hosts and property managers don’t follow these guidelines, because they don’t have much experience in managing their properties or perhaps don’t care. Residents who live in the area of these homes will suffer the consequences.

STR’s are becoming highly acceptable for revenue starved cities and counties. It was reported that there are presently approximately 300 STR’s operating in Madera County. An experienced local STR property manager can probably give you a good estimate on what these properties will generate. Let’s say, for example, an average annual income estimate for each property was $5,000 – $50,000, that would generate transient occupancy tax for the County in the neighborhood of $135,000 – $1,350,000 ($1.35Million); based on 300 properties and a 9% TOT. If STR’s take off in the County those figures could increase substantially.

An additional 2% Tourism Business Improvement Tax will likely also be collected from STR’s.

It is likely that a code enforcement officer will be dedicated to enforcing code and policing problems with STR’s and when Sheriff’s Deputies are called on complaints on STR’s, that could require additional woman/man power. But in most cities and counties, these costs are covered by the revenue stream from licensing.

If you think that this Transient Occupancy Tax should be used for fire safety instead of frittered away on signs, new County logos and off-site conferences and lunches and a myriad of projects that put fire safety at the back of the line, then please call your County Supervisor and tell him you require this money be set aside for fire safety.

Terre Sparkman


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