Guests at hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts do it, but Airbnb guests don't.
Petaluma officials next week will discuss ways to force people who rent temporary rooms using services like Airbnb to pay the same kind of tax hotels charge.
Currently, under-the-table rentals like those conducted on sites like Airbnb don't earn the city any money, and the Petaluma City Council will discuss possible ways to fix that at a special meeting Monday. People who rent rooms out for short periods of time don't usually have business licenses, and what they're doing is technically illegal because it doesn't fit into any category of the current zoning code, a city staff report says.
The decision will be up to the council, and the staff report says it has a number of options:
"Models adopted by other jurisdictions range from prohibitions, to establishment of criteria and required administrative permit/registration, to remaining unregulated accessory uses within residential structures."
A search for Petaluma houses on Airbnb.com Thursday returned about a dozen offerings locally, and more than 200 in the broader region.
City staff say they've received complaints from the neighbors of those people renting rooms in their house to strangers, "including parking and traffic, unfamiliar visitors to the neighborhood, and noise from car door slams, door beepers, and luggage wheels."
The staff report says while these "inconveniences" aren't too far from what can be expected in any given neighborhood, there is a potential for greater impact.
Petaluma's struggle with so-called peer-to-peer rentals could be just one example of a growing trend. The Seattle Times reports a Los Angeles neighborhood fighting against short-term room rentals like these, as well as backlash from taxi drivers and tradespeople against websites that allow unlicensed citizens to take those kind of jobs.
Monday's meeting in Petaluma will also include discussions on development impact fees, mixed use development, parking regulations and home preparation of commercial food.