Corte Madera commission to consider short-term rental rules

August 7, 2023

Homes on Golden Hind Passage stand next to San Clemente Creek in Corte Madera,
Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

By ADRIAN RODRIGUEZ | | Marin Independent

PUBLISHED: August 5, 2023 at 9:57 a.m. | UPDATED: August 5, 2023 at 11:56 a.m.

A proposed ordinance that would legalize short-term rentals in Corte Madera would
require hosts to register their homes and comply with other conditions.

The draft ordinance is set to be presented to the Corte Madera Planning
Commission on Tuesday. The commission meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at 240
Tamal Vista Blvd., suite 108. The session will be streamed online.

While Corte Madera is not a vacation destination like Sausalito or western Marin,
officials see the proposed regulations as a way to get ahead of potential nuisances
while also addressing concerns about fire safety and housing.

“We’re really trying to ensure that our housing stock is used for housing,” said Town
Manager Adam Wolff.

The Town Council considered whether to regulate the industry in 2016, a time when
the vacation-home rental market was booming through sites like Airbnb and VRBO.
Cities and towns were being asked by residents to tighten restrictions to regulate
noise, trash and street parking.

Corte Madera opted out of an explicit ban and took a wait-and-see approach.
Fairfax, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Novato and the county have adopted a short-term
rental program with the help of a third-party company called Host Compliance to
track and regulate operators. The jurisdictions require short-term rental operators
to register and pay fees and taxes.

San Anselmo allows the rentals with a business license, but it does not charge a tax.
Ross has left them unregulated. Tiburon and Sausalito have adopted bans. In
Larkspur and Corte Madera, short-term rentals are illegal because they are not a
permitted use in the city’s zoning code.

Last year, the Larkspur City Council adopted new fines ranging from $1,500 to
$5,000 for offenses, the maximum penalties allowed under state law. Meanwhile,
the city’s staff is still researching options for regulations, monitoring and

The Marin County Board of Supervisors extended a moratorium on short-term
rentals in western Marin for nearly two years because the industry was
exacerbating the shortage of affordable housing. In Bolinas and Inverness, 10% of
the parcels are being used as short-term rentals, according to the county. In Stinson
Beach and Dillon Beach, the numbers are even higher — 27% and 31%, respectively.
County planners held a workshop in June to discuss the issue. Draft regulations are
expected to be released by the end of the month with hopes of having new rules in
place before the moratorium expires, county officials said.

In Corte Madera, Bob Brown, a planning consultant, has been working with town
staffers for over a year to study the issue. He said they know of about 30 listings in
town, and no major complaints have been recorded.

A town survey shows that 287 of 541 respondents, or 53%, support allowing the
home rentals with regulations. The rest supported continuing the ban, he said.
The Corte Madera proposal would preclude short-term rentals of deed restricted
homes, accessory dwelling units or homes created through urban lot splits under
Senate Bill 9. It would limit a home to being used for a maximum of 75 days a year.
The proposal sets a maximum occupancy of two people per bedroom plus two
people for a common area. Guests would have to observe a curfew. The proposal
requires local contact information to be made available.

The ordinance would require that the hosts collect the same 10% transient
occupancy tax from their visitors that hotels do..Julie Kritzberger,,executive director
of the Corte Madera Chamber of Commerce, said that provision is key.

“There are pros and cons regarding short-term rentals, and the needs of all parties
need to be considered,” Kritzberger said.

Charging hotel taxes and establishing other regulations could “level the playing field
for our hotels,” she said, while “allowing our homeowners the ability to utilize their
properties to generate income.”