Following Halloween Deaths, Orinda Bans Short-Term ‘Non-Hosted' Rentals

Less than three weeks after a shooting at a house party at an Airbnb short-term rental house claimed five lives, the Orinda City Council on Tuesday night approved an emergency ordinance banning "non-hosted" rentals altogether, and placing new limits on "hosted" venues as well.

Orinda's approved urgency ordinance, which took effect immediately, will require the property owner must stay on the property when it is used for short-term rentals -- and not necessarily in the same structure. This would allow the rental of a detached smaller structure, like an "in-law" or "granny" unit, while the hosts stay in the main residence. It was modified Tuesday to allow the hosts to stay in either the main or the auxiliary residence on the property.

Orinda's urgency ordinance also requires stays of two nights or longer, designed to fend off one-night party rental scenarios.

The council heard, both on Tuesday and on Nov. 5, from more than 60 people altogether with a wide variety of views on short-term rentals. One woman Tuesday night told the Orinda council that a nearby non-hosted rental brought a sometimes disoriented collection of folks to her cul-de-sac; another said that students attending several area colleges (and their visiting parents) were helping make Orinda a "university town."

While some wanted no changes at all, others wanted a total ban on such rentals, as Danville and Sausalito have.

Most, however, while urging the city not act too rashly, seemed to agree that it is the non-hosted rental homes that have caused most of the problems.

On Halloween night, five people were shot and killed, and several others wounded, at a party at a house at 114 Lucille Way that was advertised on Airbnb as a short-term rental property. While city rules prohibit gatherings of more than 12 people at any short-term rental property, it was estimated by Contra Costa Sheriff's deputies that more than 100 people were at the Lucille Way house the night of the shootings.

On Nov. 5, after more than four hours of public comments and council deliberations, the Orinda council unanimously approved moving ahead with an "urgency ordinance" to prohibit "non-hosted" rental units in that city (there are 13 of them currently) where the owner/residents are often not home, or sometimes absent altogether, when guests are staying there.

The newly passed urgency ordinance will need to be renewed every 45 days for up to two years, but city officials said they plan to work on a permanent ordinance during that period.

Orinda has 51 properties registered as short-term rental sites, both hosted and non-hosted. The Lucille Way house, owned by people who do not live there, was a non-hosted Airbnb site. It is no longer listed on Airbnb.

The owners of 114 Lucille had been warned repeatedly about violations of the city's short-term rental rules, only to break them by allowing large gatherings. Councilman Nick Kosla said the new ordinance won't completely eliminate problem behaviors.

"There won't be 100 percent enforcement no matter what we do," he said.

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