We found out the hard way that a house near us is part of the vacation-ownership site Pacaso. We’re wondering if this business model is legal in our area—St. Helena is in the midst of a battle with the company—because our new one-eighth-share neighbors are partying it up when they’re in town. —M.
Pacaso, which buys properties and then sells one-eighth shares as vacation homes, has indeed purchased two in the area—one at 1131 Las Alturas Road in November, and the other at 2084 East Valley Road last month—and more could conceivably be on the way. A one-eighth share of the Riviera house (above) is $1.085 million, and all are spoken for; the Montecito house (below) is $1.294 million per share.
I ran the question of legality by the county’s Planning & Development department, which has regulations about short-term rentals:
Our regulations don’t consider cases where there are multiple owners, but I don’t think Pacaso ‘circumvents’ them, necessarily. If multiple owners are using a property, it’s not a rental at all, short-term or long-term. However, it seems like the concept is to provide multiple owners a vacation home, and this could bring some of the nuisance issues we see with short-term rentals from people who are only staying a short time. Our short-term rental regulations were developed, in part, to deal with these nuisance issues, maintain neighborhood character, and to preserve permanent housing stock. To answer your question, it appears selling multiple shares in a home is legal from a land use planning perspective—but something we should pay attention to.
It stands to reason that the city’s response would be similar. Then I asked what to do if a neighbor causes problems.
If someone has a complaint and believes a neighbor is violating the County’s land use ordinances (a parking violation, for instance), they may file a complaint. This site has information on how to do that. In some cases, it may also be appropriate to contact law enforcement (noise violations), and for the unincorporated County, this would be the Sheriff’s Office. If properties are location in a City, the City would need to be contacted for enforcement action.
A rep for Pacaso, meanwhile said that all owners must sign the company’s code of conduct:
Pacaso owners agree to abide by the following policies:
—Pacaso homes are designed solely for the personal use and enjoyment of owners and their personal guests. Rental of Pacaso homes is strictly prohibited.
—Large events or parties that would cause disruption for the neighborhood are prohibited.
—Quiet hours are observed from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
—Owners may bring up to two dogs onto the property. Dogs cannot weigh more than 80 pounds each and no other animals are allowed (except certified assistance animals).
—Pacaso owners are strongly encouraged to avoid parking on the street unless absolutely necessary.
—No trash or garbage is allowed to accumulate, and garbage containers must be stored out of sight except on collection day.
—No part of a Pacaso home may be used for commercial purposes.
Violations of Pacaso’s owner policies may result in monetary penalties or a temporary suspension of stay rights.We are looking forward to being your neighbor. If you are a neighbor with a question or would like to report a concern, please contact us at [email protected].
There’s no way to know whether Pacaso’s threat of enforcement has any teeth, but the only way to find out is to tell the company when the neighbors get out of line. If the problem becomes widespread, the city and county could always follow St. Helena’s lead and try banning the model outright.
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