Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury Investigates Vacation Rental Issues in Trinidad

This is a press release from the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury:

Humboldt County Seal 2017This is the sixth report from the 2017-2018 Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury, titled:

A Tale of Two Cities

Vacation Rentals in Trinidad, California

Trinidad, a lovely seaside town in the heart of Redwood Country, embodies the hopes and dreams of many people within its small and picturesque environs. Many residents desire the family-friendly, uncrowded community that existed when they moved there. Others wish to create businesses in its charming neighborhoods, aspirations which have led to a proliferation of short term rental (STR) units, from 5% in 2000 to approximately 18% in 2014. As a result, conflicts have arisen and residents filed complaints with the Grand Jury.

Citizens cite a number of issues related to the proliferation of STRs, which include:

• Loss of permanent residents, leading to a declining number of volunteers willing to support the town activities

• Multiple perceived violations of the rules and regulations governing STRs which residents believe are not being adequately enforced

• A lack of follow-through in the appeals process

• Perceived conflicts of interest among current city council members and a city official who either own or have other interests in STRs

According to Trinidad city officials, between 2000 and 2010 the vacation rental industry grew unrestricted. As complaints about STRs surfaced, the first city ordinance (2014-02) was enacted, then revised as Ordinance 2016-03, which went into effect in June 2017.

After reviewing Ordinance 2016-03, the Grand Jury believes that strict adherence to the procedures set forth in that ordinance would successfully address many of the conflicts facing Trinidad relative to STRs.

The full report is attached.

Final Report - A Tale of Two Cities - Final



  • I like stars too!

    When I posted a home on Air B&B, it was about 24 hours later when Humboldt County sent me a letter stating that I now owed Humboldt County 6% of all income from the renting of the property.

    I quickly un-posted my listing, and gave up the whole idea. Later I sold the property for a very nice profit, and the County got nothing.

    Nice going, in a county that wants tourism, eco and cannabis, but puts up fences instantly against outsiders.

    Come to think of it, this is also what happens if you come to Humboldt to work!

    If you want to work in Humboldt, be prepared for bad salaries, terrible management, and stupid government.

    Want to do business or invest in Humboldt?

    Just forget it right now!

    • But why does the county want tourism at all? Because it creates a tax base that the locals don’t have to pony up. If they did not have an occupancy tax, then everyone would have “rentals”, causing increase in road, fire and police use without the county being able to recoup the cost. The small amount of sales tax the county gets would not cover it and it would be a burden to those who don’t have rentals.

      The value received for the taxes another conversation but I do see that motel taxes are an attempt to shift the tax burden to travelers, not locals who could then keep more of what they earn from tourism too.

    • Tourism tax. The hotel n motels been paying it for quite a long time, maybe more than a couple decades. You wanted to run your house like a motel? So you pay the tourism tax, duh. No one tried to pull a fast one on you. 😂

    • Sounds like a wealthy person’s problem.

      • I like stars too!

        It’s a working person’s problem… I solved it though!

        • Oh sure, the working class buys vacation rentals in Trinidad to air bnb all the time. “A working persons problem” LOL!

          You solved it in the way the county, and most of the citizens, preferred. We dont need you.

    • Alt Right For Life

      Did you post the address or did they data mine you?

      Not sure why you would want to Air B+B because anyone you give keys to can stay 6-9 months until you evict them.

      Just curious how the county got your location and zapped you.

      Please don’t bring a bunch of couch surfers and rag muffin types around.

      • I knew someone working for the county tax department whose duties including checking the papers for advertisements for those not paying taxes. Pretty sure that job now includes scanning the appropriate internet sites now.

        • Alt Right For Life

          That’s what I was curious about, so they call up and then serve papers on the wanna be motel owner…

          They should just fine them enough to take the property, revoke their drivers license, cut off their power and water, and triple their garbage bill.

          Busting scammer types and making them pay is a positive step for better communities.

      • I like stars too!

        Being a landlord is easy, anywhere outside the North Coast. You just need to be a little careful!

        I have had 25 years experience as a landlord, and Air B&B is usually a good option for property owners who would like some extra income.

        I do not have experience handing over a chunk of “extra-tax”, which seems to be Humboldt’s solution to every issue.

        This is in a county that failed to tax Cannabis for over 40 years…

    • the misadventures of bunjee

      Then just add 6% to what you want from the listing. They’re collecting sales tax. Be happy it’s not upwards to 20% that places like Seattle charge for motel/hotel rentals. As far as cannabis, the county had no authority to tax it as that’s the state’s deal. Now it is, but you can’t retroactively collect it.

      I’m curious how many people actually would volunteer for town services. How many rentals with absent owners are there? It seems the GJ report assumes that every homeowner is also a volunteer, which in my experience of many years of doing such, 10% turnout for all those that are active volunteers is par for the course. That’s not very many people.

      I won’t exclude issues with AirBnB though. I know a few people that have had homes trashed by rowdy guests that circumvented rules and were complete assholes. Or outright fraudulent (not who they said they were and were criminals on the run). Perhaps the city can come up with a “code” that can vet each rental contract so that it complies with local civil (and civility) codes all can agree on? Like a pre-screening, before the homeowner pre-screens?

    • If you could not be profitable with a 6% tax you were not going to make money at it anyway. Don’t blame the county, blame yourself for a poor business plan.

    • TOT is automatically collected and reported by Airbnb in Trinidad and all of Humboldt County. In Trinidad, the 8% tax was raised to 10% on a whim – just to make it the same as the County. Last month, the current City Manager suggested it be raised again to pay for his ever bloating budgets. TOT was originally intended to help and promote businesses providing tourism services. Tourism property taxes already cover any actual road maintenance, fire, ems, and police services needed by tourists. TOT being used for General Fund revenue is really misuse, and to suggest raising it as a revenue stream, well that is just stupid.

  • Save Trinidad Neighborhoods

    Many of you are aware of how long and hard the residents of Trinidad California have been working to get some action taken to address the crony capitalism/corruption that has taken over Trinidad these past many years regarding STRs. Communities all over the world, and especially in CA, are being pushed out of housing for someone’s commercial businesses, and zoning rights are being trampled. Short term rentals with a primary resident/occupant, for less than 60 days/year, is far different than a vacation rental that operates 365 days per year, without a resident ever living there, while operating in a residential zone.

    Our local grassroots group organized to make the issues known and to try to restore a democratic process to our local government. We all played huge roles in getting this issue into the light. We were completely ignored by our city and labeled “complainers”. We were also completely ignored by the California Coastal Commission and swept under the virtual rug in our pleas to retain our community. Now, we have been heard, by our Grand Jury. After years of attending and speaking at meetings, time spent obtaining public records, being publicly ridiculed, threatened with litigation and humiliated we finally were heard. We all worked together in a collaborative effort. There is no valid reason why local zoning should be deregulated and commercial vacation rentals allowed in residential zones. Zoning protects our community and the housing supply. We have a housing crisis, not a tourist accommodation crisis. Airbnb and the like are effectively attempting to legalize this and cities like Trinidad have succeeded in “socializing the costs and privatizing the profits” for these businesses, at the expense of their residents. Residents are subsidizing their profits at great costs. This residential housing takeover scheme is being challenged around the world. The California Coastal Commission has greatly overstepped it’s bounds and is currently being sued for violation of a municipalities ability to determine it’s zoning for it’s residents. The Airbnb lobbyists are hard at work at the top of this issue. Thank you to the Grand Jury.
    Save Trinidad Neighborhoods #neighborsnotvacationrentals

  • I like stars too!

    Yes, we need an army of trimmers, vagabonds and tent-living gro-bros, but tourists? Nahhhhhhh! People who spend in-county are baaaaaaaad…. So are persons who work healthcare and buy homes.

  • Keep in mind the tax is a pass-through. Just like sales tax. You collect it from the customer & pass it on to the gov. It was never yours to start with. Short term rentals are subject to occupancy tax just like motels and hotels.

    “Transient occupancy tax (TOT) is charged in most of the United States, including California, to travelers when they rent accommodations (a room, rooms, entire home, or other living space) in a hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel, or other lodging unless the stay is for a period of 30 days or more. The tax is to be collected at the time that payment is made for the accommodation, and it is then remitted by the lodging operator to the city or county. It can also be called hotel occupancy tax, in places like New York City and Texas.[1][2] Despite its name, it generally applies to the same range of accommodations.

    Other examples of lodging follow:

    Camping sites
    Space at a campground or recreational vehicle park.”

  • Classic battle of the Haves vs. The Have-mores.

  • Gotta love all the dope growers in Trinidad turning their outbuildings that were grow rooms into rentals in a desperate attempt to retain the drug dealer lifestyle and avoid a real job. They also ask extortionate amounts for their crappy studio rentals in the woods.good luck dopers lol

    • Alt Right For Life

      Dope growers definitely do not like or want jobs.

      Maybe we can have a thread giving them ideas of jobs they can get since the money tree has been chopped down?

      A good job for an out of business dope grower might be selling used cars. Good salesmen may make $500 on each car sold.

      • Or perhaps they can pick up the trade they have been pretending to do while all they were actually doing was growing dope. There’s sure gonna be some shoddy construction workers out there.

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