Danville council supports banning Airbnb-type rentals

Prohibition ordinance set to return for final adoption March 1

The operation of Airbnb and other similar short-term residential rentals are on track to being banned in Danville after the Town Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to give initial support to the proposed prohibition ordinance, drawing cheers from a large section of the meeting audience in favor of the ban.

Concerns addressed by the pro-ban citizen speakers, and later discussed by the council members, ranged from potential increases in local crime to property ownership control to perceived shortcomings in the rental vetting process to protecting Danville's small-town feel.

In the end, it was town zoning laws that seemed to weigh heaviest on the decision of the council majority, deeming the homes are essentially being used as rental businesses in areas zoned only for residential.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction," Councilman Newell Arnerich said at the Town Meeting Hall. "This is not a government entity taking away your power from you ... We're voting to preserve our general plan of which we have all approved."

The ban ordinance is set to return to the council for final adoption March 1. Councilman Robert Storer cast the lone dissent vote, saying the proposal was based more on emotion than fact and urging the town to take more time to research the issue before voting on a total ban.

The decision to endorse a ban on short-term rentals -- defined as 30 consecutive days or less -- within town limits came following an hour-long public comments session and 30-minute council discussion.

Dozens of residents packed the meeting for the debate, with 15 citizen speakers telling the council they supported the ban while seven speakers opposed the proposal. Another 20 residents also registered their support of the ban but chose not to speak.

Danville's "quality of life" was a talking point for many speakers, in respect to the town's general plan and the town's character and history.

Many residents who spoke in favor of the ban said the reason for paying the high rent or mortgage rates associated with life in Danville is to enjoy the small-town, rural feel of the community.

"You've got a multi-billion dollar corporation that wants to expand itself and bring itself in to our neighborhoods," resident Scott Amarant told the council. "They cut against the grain of what our community is really about, which is home and heart."

Lara Forbes, a 13-year Danville resident, shared Amarant's sentiment, saying when people spend upward of $2 million on a home, they expect a certain "character and integrity in their neighborhood" that short-term rental operations don't provide.

Other speakers, who had positive experiences with Airbnb, disagreed.

"This is one way for me to stay in Danville," said Melinda Malin, a lifetime Danville resident and daughter of the town's first mayor, John May. "I think it's really important to know that we live in an economy, and an area, that I've always felt is very welcoming and very inclusive ... And we have had nothing but the most amazing experience with Airbnb."

Danville resident Jenner Balagot, who works as an Airbnb compliance officer, cautioned that the council has been forced to walk a fine line between preservation and isolation. He argued the best way to share the rich culture and history of Danville is to allow travelers and tourists into the residential neighborhoods, where they are granted interaction with those who reside there.

Balagot, who said he was speaking as a resident and not as an Airbnb representative, avoided addressing questions regarding vetting of renters -- an issue raised by some speakers concerned about a potential increase in crime brought by "transient visitors" into residential neighborhoods.

Danville City Attorney Rob Ewing said Danville police reported no parallel between short-term rentals and crime, but resident speakers like Eric Peterson said they were wary.

"I don't want to take the chance," Peterson said. "Maybe there is no correlation (between short-term rentals and crime) yet, but it's just a matter of time, in my opinion," Peterson said.

"I don't want to take the chance with my family, with my community," he added.

The fear for Peterson, along with several other speakers, was strangers with little to no personal investment in the town being introduced into tight-knit communities. The process by which renters are selected is suspect, they argued.

Pat Read, who rents her home in Danville through Airbnb, said that all renters go through a "five-level identification" authorization process. Jennifer Maloney, who also opposed the ban, stated that decisions on renters of homes in Danville should come down to the final "good sense" of the homeowners.

But pro-ban speakers argued that while a homeowner is entitled to their rights, purchasing a home in Danville is entering a contract committing to the tranquility of the neighborhood.

When the discussion turned to the council, Storer said he thought support of the ban was based on emotion, and not fact. He proposed taking no action on the matter until more statistical information can be gathered.

The council also heard an alternative idea to a total prohibition in which short-term rentals would be allowed under restrictions and overseen through funds collected in the form of fees and licensing costs administered to renters.

In the end, the council majority supported the ban proposal, voting to pass the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday night and advance it for final consideration on March. 1.

"I have mixed feelings, because I come from a real estate family," Mayor Karen Stepper said. "I think it's something that we might look at again down the road, if we come up with more information ... but I think it's appropriate to ban it at this time."

Editor's note: Kalama Hines is a freelance writer for

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23 people like this
Posted by J.J.
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 7:25 am

Although I'm not interested in renting any part of my home, to take away the right of someone to do so is just plain wrong.
Think this a terrible precedent and does a disservice to the people of Danville.

8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 7:44 am

JJ. When I see comments such as yours, I think that the scope of what is involved and its detriment is being missed.
As mentioned in previous posts, having a "revolving door" of strangers in your neighborhood, perhaps next door or across the street, is, in itself, unsettling. Taxis coming to drop off and pick up at all hours of day and night, people (strangers) wondering your street with backpacks while your children are playing outside... Just to name a few things.
You may feel it's an invasion of personal rights but others feel that allowing this practice in our bedroom community is an invasion of: safety, privacy, home values,etc.
A good point is to imagine this happening to YOU in your neighborhood.

9 people like this
Posted by Sue
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

I own a home on the coast that allows short term rentals. Many people rent their homes with various rental organizations. Our peace & quiet has been destroyed by loud parties, speeding cars, loose dogs, and large groups of rude people that rent the homes. These people do not care about the community. Some people even rent their houses out to teans for weekend parties.
The right to rent your home should not jeopardize the ability if your neighbor's to enjoy their homes.

18 people like this
Posted by Elbert Arean
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 8:17 am

Sue: you buy a vacation house, on the coast, and want Solitude? First, that's a ridiculous goal for such a dwelling, and second, it bears no relationship to Danville's setting.

And Robert -- I Have considered it, and your hyperbole is badly overblown. These horror stories are nearly always either made-up hypotheticals or third-hand didjahearabout gossip. If you want to control how somebody else uses their property, buy it.

About the only thing I miss about Texas, other than BBQ, is that you get to do want you want with your stuff. This is mob rule by the uber-fearful, over-vocal and under-busy.

7 people like this
Posted by Ralph Kramden
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 8:21 am

Why not just enact ordinances that HEAVILY penalize property owners when bad behavior occurs on their property during short-term rentals?
*$5000 fine every time police have to respond the the property
*Property owner pays cost of cleaning up property and surrounding public area within 24 hrs
*Property owner must register with Town of Danville and provide proof of $1,000,000 liability insurance

Don't ban rentals, just make sure the property owners thinks twice (ten times?)about doing it.

27 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 8:41 am

Ridiculous to propose and enforce a ban in Danville. Most Airbnb renters in Danville are those visiting families, as our hotel options are limited to non-existent. Airbnb provides adequate screening. Pricing keeps out the riff raff. Ridiculous!

6 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 9:13 am

I have to jump in. The rental in question is in our neighborhood. We have first hand experience of these strangers wondering the neighborhood and the taxis (who do not drive slowly and there are many children here) at all hours of the day and night. This neighborhood like many others as of recent, have had a very scary break in (gun point). Why would anyone want to encourage more possible threats to our or any other neighborhood?
Matt, the Air BnB host we are opposed to hosts people from anywhere and they are not family members. We are not an unreasonable neighborhood. We are just concerned about our safety.
As it has been previously stated, imagine YOURSELF having to deal with this scenario. And if you don't have young children, although it may be difficult, try to imagine having a house across the street with different strangers peering into your yard where your children play.

It's NOT a good situation. Glad we can nip a potentially major problem in the bud.
Danville Town Council, thank you for your support as our town is added to the list of other caring bedroom communities to restrict these rentals.

4 people like this
Posted by Elbert Arean
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 9:18 am

I'm with Ralph, except why limit it to only short-term rentals? If the problem is bad behavior, penalize That. Property ownership should not immunize bad behavior.

11 people like this
Posted by Vicki C
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:28 pm

This is so wrong! The vetting process is usually done by the price! The people you are worried about, probably couldn't afford to short term rent a place in Danville. We have had one short term renter. She was delightful. Was from Oregon and had to attend to her aging father in Rossmoor. We were delighted to have her, it was a great experience and we feel we made a lifelong friend. Has anything actually happened in an AirBnB rental that was detrimental or dangerous? I think you are all jousting at windmills over this, and there is too much random, "what if" going on. Anyone who is going to let a stranger into their home is going to be very careful about who that person is. Also, the person coming to your home is going to be very careful about who they are going to rent from. These are called nameless dreads that you are dealing with. Shame on all of you who are worried about something that has never happened.

6 people like this
Posted by Chloe
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Bob- the gunpoint robbery in your neighborhood had nothing to do with Airbnb. I beg to differ that your neighborhood is reasonable. Fear has caused quite a commotion.

Like this comment
Posted by Anne
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm

To those of you who have commented on the "thorough" background checks made by Airbnb,you really should read the following:
Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Elbert Arean
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Anne: your link requires a subscription to the Comical, but the headline suggests that whatever happened is a complete outlier: "The most bizarre, outrageous Airbnb feud story you’ll ever read." Do you have ANY idea whatsoever how many of their rentals proceed without incident, or do you require perfection in All Things?

4 people like this
Posted by Jon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm

The AirBNB issue in our Town wouldn't be getting this attention had the homeowner who built the eyesore of an AirBNB motel had an ounce of consideration for their neighborhood or our community. I am for the ban specifically because I would hate for your situation to set precedent for allowing others to follow suit in a selfish quest for financial gain.

To the mayor and majority of council members: THANK YOU for voting for the continued betterment of our beautiful Town!

4 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Feb 19, 2016 at 6:54 am

This is legislation that is not enforceable. Who is to drive around and ask anyone who is having someone house sit for them. Relatives from out of town living in a home while the owners are on vacation? This is based on fear and "those people". Forest Gump is alive and well in Danville!

Like this comment
Posted by Dan Davis
a resident of Danville
on Feb 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Good decision.

Like this comment
Posted by Ann P.
a resident of Danville
on Feb 23, 2016 at 8:22 pm

I agree with J. J. "Although I'm not interested in renting any part of my home, to take away the right of someone to do so is just plain wrong. Think this a terrible precedent and does a disservice to the people of Danville."

For all of us that agree and want less government control, we MUST show up at the next Town Council meeting. I am a 30 year resident and am really beginning to wonder who our elected officials work for.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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