The RDOS board passed its first temporary use permits (TUPs) for vacation rentals. You may recall that this was the board's solution to the problem of vacation rentals:
- Specifically prohibit vacation rentals in the zoning bylaws for most parts of the RDOS (Apex Mountain was the exception). That is, for most parts of the RDOS, hosting vacation rentals in your home is a offense under the zoning bylaw and is subject to fines.
- Create a procedure by which permission to have vacation rental based on a TUP. The requirements for TUPs are specified in the Local Government Act. People who apply for and are awarded a TUP may legally operate a vacation rental in their homes under the terms of the permit.
Where did this come from? Based on my consultation with Area F residents, I see three main problems with vacation rentals:
- Noise: some people come to the Okanagan to party and some vacation rentals become summer-long noise machines.
- Strangers: some people believe that a residential neighborhood should be residential, not commercial. From what I can tell, the root of this objection is that some of us expect to know our neighbors. Having a steady stream of strangers living in one's neighborhood violates this expectation.
- Infrastructure: inadequate parking, inadequate septic, and so on can create headaches for neighbors.
TUPs offer a compromise: people who want to run a vacation rental business in their home have to ask the RDOS for permission. This provides two controls:
- If neighbors are against the idea at the outset a TUP might not be granted.
- If a permit is granted but then the vacation rental becomes a nuisance in the neighborhood then the TUP may not be renewed.
Unfortunately, the requirements for TUPs (as laid out in the Local Government Act) are pretty onerous. The permits are really intended for more drastic temporary exceptions to zoning bylaws. For example, we have seen TUPs granted for crushing gravel in residential neighborhoods. The logic is that the rock removed during subdivision excavation needs to be processed and it makes sense to process it on site. On the other hand, gravel crushing is incompatible with residential serenity.
In my view, TUPs are overkill for vacation rentals which, let's face it, do not really involve a change in use at all (owners leave the house, other people move in). The result is that the TUP process is slow, expensive, and looks a lot like a bunch of meaningless red tape. For example, each of the board reports for the two TUPs we have seen this week are more than a dozen pages long, required 7-9 requests for referrals to other organizations (including the archeology branch!), may require advertising and public meetings, and so on. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about this at the regional district because we are limited to the tools provided to us by the provincial government. Some kind of business license might be a less onerous tool, but we have no ability in the RDOS to grant rural business licenses. At least as far as we know. I have asked staff to push this a bit more.
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions about the TUP process. This is a new way of doing things at the RDOS.