Dueling campaign signs in Nevada City

“Good fences make good neighbors,” Robert Frost wrote. So it goes in Nevada City, where campaign signs supporting and opposing Measure Y — the voters’ initiative to regulate short-term rentals — are placed on adjoining properties. This is just down the street from our house. What a hoot!

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About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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23 Responses to Dueling campaign signs in Nevada City

  1. Karla Arens says:

    In the latest financial report you’ll find that the opponents of Y hold much more of a war chest than those in favor of Y. No surprise since the opponents are hoteliers (some out of the city) who have commercial interests and those in support of Y are residents hoping to keep their neighborhoods residential.

    • jeffpelline says:

      Karla,
      Next time you and Laurie O. are in our residential neighborhood, why don’t you come by and see the big “granny” unit that slipped by the eyes of our “residential neighborhood watchdogs.” It is an eyesore! We have dysfunctional ordinances when it comes to protecting R1 neighborhoods. It seems to be driven by “every man/woman for himself/herself.”

  2. Karla Arens says:

    You have my sympathy on that….blame the planning commission who no doubt approved it. Unfortunately, there’s just so much neighbors can do except to elect Council members who will truly represent the best interests of the community. Agreed, the ordinances can be confusing and subjective. Have you read the Host’s Ordinance? Makes your head spin. Read Measure S and see what you think.

  3. Karla Arens says:

    Typo…meant Measure Y

  4. Gail Damskey says:

    I find it very interesting that Laurie O is a very good friend with the woman who had her landlord built the 2nd dwelling. 2nd dwelling by definaition are to house low-income residents. This new 800 sq ft/30 ft tall structure will NOT house low income residents like the Latino woman who lives down the street and works 3 jobs. Instead, a “white” 30-something couple that drives a Prius and their two year old will be moving in. How could I impossibly begin to back Measure Y when this sort oversight and eyesore has completely changed the feeling of our residential neighborhood. How can a support Measure Y when a woman who doesn’t even own a home has been allowed by the city to change our R1 neighborhood which immediately effects the closest homeowners and the dollar value of their R1 residents that they have owned their homes for years. Talk about commercial self-centered interest! As it now stands, there are 4 cars associated with 315 Clay Street which doesn’t count the Prius that is yet to arrive. Not one of these cars parks in a driveway. Instead they all park on an already very narrow street. And you think an AirB&B is an issue?

  5. Gail Damskey says:

    Karla, 2nd units do not go through the planning commission nor are the neighbors informed. This was one of Cindy’s last moves before leaving the city to the point that she approved plans that were not carefully looked at until the neighbors started making noise. What this also means is that I too could actually have 4 structures on my 1/2 acre by splitting my property with the allowable road-front frontage, add a 2nd unit on my half plus build another home & 2nd unit on the newly formed 1/4th acre. Legally there’s nothing to stop me but my own integrity and my love of private space…which is now gone.

  6. Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

    Unfortunately Gail the Ordinance on 2nd units was changed to help meet the Affordable Housing Element of the General Plan but NO Deed Restrictions or regulations were put in place to assure they remained affordable long-term housing. The current regulations on AirBnB will also allow more of these “granny units” to be converted to vacation rentals. Nevada City Hosts claim it doesn’t allow “whole house” rentals but a careful reading of it shows that it does. Currently a number of houses in town are being rented in their entirety as “whole house” rentals while the Hosts use loopholes by staying there occasionally or having a room/closet/garage shut off and saying they aren’t renting the entire house. They have been doing it illegally for years without paying taxes and now they are going to be “self-regulated.” Wait until more vacation rentals spring up in your neighborhood and the house next door will seem like a minor problem. I have a house in my neighborhood that advertises to rent it for your weddings and it has been the site of a number of them; along with all the cars that come with the guests attending. Measure Y may not be perfect but it tries to close some of the loopholes while still allowing for the rental of up to 2 rooms and protect the neighborhoods from situations with parking like you are experiencing. It requires the City to enforce the Ordinance and collect TOT.

    • Nielsen A Locke says:

      Cathy, Y not being perfect is exactly the problem with an initiative. The ordinance could not changed except by Voters approval which requires an election, regular/special – either expensive. As a former City Clerk you are very aware of the biggest flaw in an initiative is this problem.
      The current ordinance may have flaws and the flaws can be changed by action of the City Council with a Public Hearing and a vote by the Council. That is impossible with a Voters Initiative.
      Citizens of Nevada City Vote NO on Y
      Niel Locke, City Clerk

  7. Thank you Niel Locke. The current ordinance is working very well and residents with vacation
    rentals are already paying the TOT! The same group of people who claim to be friends of Nevada City are anything but!! The Chamber of Commerce supports NO ON Y. If you really care about Nevada City and would like to keep it friendly and keep inspiring tourists to visit, please, please VOTE NO ON Y!!

  8. Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

    Niel, you as the present City Clerk should know that the problem with the present one adopted by the City Council is that it cannot be changed without a vote of the people BECAUSE it was brought to the City Council as an initiative signed by voters to qualify it; not as a Council proposed Ordinance that could have the flaws changed by a vote of the Council. It was a Voters Initiative. They can only make non-substantive changes to it, as they can with Measure Y. Citizens of Nevada City Vote YES on Y. Don’t sell our neighborhoods for a few pieces of silver.

    • steve cottrell says:

      Amen, Cathy!

      • Niel Locke says:

        Sorry Cathy/Steve, Y would be set stone as you must remember B & B in R-1 initiative took a Vote of the Public to repeal the act. It had some serious flaws which could not changed until it was totally repealed.
        The Council and City Attorney could not find any serious flaws and the Council has the flexibility to make changes at the Council level after due process.
        The Finance Manager conservatively estimated the City was losing $70,000 in TOT taxes from these unregulated short term rentals which is not a few pieces of silver in NC. The City needs revenue if the Citizens want to maintain our Police/Fire without consolidating Or we raise the property taxes to a level to support the departments.
        Vote No on Y

  9. Karla Arens says:

    Just learned that all of the Yes on Y signs on E. Broad have been stolen- don’t know about other streets right now. Are we really that immature as to steal signs? We all need to concentrate on the merits or lack thereof of the issues at hand.

    • Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

      Yes on Y signs have also been stolen or vandalized on Long Street, Park Ave./Boulder, American Hill and other locations. Mysteriously No on Y signs haven’t been touched. Does someone not realize that it is illegal to tamper with campaign signs!

  10. Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

    Niel, you need to reread your Election Code. The Council was allowed to “adopt the ordinance (initiative petition), WITHOUT ALTERATION, at the regular meeting at which the certification of the petition is presented or within 10 days after it is presented.” The Council does not have the flexibility, as you put it, to make changes at the Council level after due process. It is set in stone now and can only be changed by a vote of the people (due process). And, as I’m sure you know, it is against the law to rent a unit for less than 30 days without collecting and paying TOT. What you may not know is that under the State Taxation and Revenue Code, TOT is the only tax that is inheritable and thereby, uncollected TOT transfers to the next owner of the property. Therefore the use of the property as a short-term rental falls under disclosure when a property Is sold. The City has only to use the same data used to estimate the loss of $70,000 (complaints, AirBnB listings, etc.) to collect the unpaid tax from the past 4-6 years of illegal rentals. Measure Y has provisions for enforcement, the current Host initiative, adopted by the City Council does not – it is self-regulated – the fox guarding the hen house. Enough said – Vote Yes on Y.

  11. jeffpelline says:

    A link to the campaign filings (“Yes on Y Nevada City” and “Nevada City Hosts against Measure Y”) are here: http://nf4.netfile.com/Pub2/AllFilingsByMeasure.aspx?id=159833292&measure=Measure+Y
    The group “Nevada City Hosts against Measure Y” has raised $6,752, the reports show. Duane Strawser’s Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop is a contributor ($100).

    The “Yes on Y Nevada City” group isn’t even providing “e-filings,” now the preferred method for campaign finance reports. What’s up with that???!!! I’ll go get their figures from the Rood Center when I get a chance.

  12. Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

    Jeff, the Yes on Y committee filed Form 460 on April 26th with the City Clerk as instructed in the FPPC Ballot Measure Committees Campaign Disclosure Manual 3. It clearly states a local ballot measure is to be filed with the CITY CLERK. We double checked with the FPPC on where it was to be filed and they responded in writing it had to be filed with the City Clerk. That is what we did and we are not aware of any provisions the City has for doing an e-filing. Maybe you should talk to the City about this.

  13. jeffpelline says:

    Cathy,
    The e-filings are made with the County, which is now set up to handle this. Please check the link I provided. Please provide e-filings! Thanks.

    • Niel Locke says:

      Cathy knows the procedure !!!

      • jeffpelline says:

        Great. I look forward to reading the “Yes on Y” contingent’s filings on the County website tomorrow morning, just like the opponents! “The internet is changing how we communicate, and this includes e-filings.”

  14. Steve Simons says:

    That picture is a great distillation of the Measure Y conflict:

    – The “Yes on Y” sign is in front of the former Red Castle B&B, somewhat recently converted back to a private residence. Now that the owners are no longer collecting rent from guests themselves, they appear to be interested in preserving neighborhood character.
    – The “No on Y” sign is in front of a current VRBO/AirBnB rental, naturally enough!
    https://www.vrbo.com/805714

    Too funny!

  15. jeffpelline says:

    Yes, you got it!

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