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Menlo Park may set 30-day minimum on renting out secondary units

The restriction would apply to homeowners with secondary units, and would cover rental of the main house

A cursory skim of Airbnb listings in Menlo Park shows a number of cottages and private units listed online for $125 to $170 a night. Unless those units were rented out for a minimum term of 30 days, such offerings could soon be illegal.

On Dec. 5, the Menlo Park Planning Commission voted unanimously (with Susan Goodhue absent) to recommend passage of an ordinance requiring 30-day minimum rentals for homeowners with secondary units, also know as accessory, in-law, "granny" and cottage units.

The ordinance, as currently written, would apply to rental of both the main and the secondary dwelling. The 30-day minimum, which would be enforced based on complaints, isn't mandated but is allowed by the state, said Thomas Rogers, a principal planner with the city.

In January or February, the proposed ordinance may come before the City Council, Mr. Rogers said.

The topic of regulating second units arose because of state mandates for cities to update their secondary dwelling policies. The main state-mandated change, Mr. Rogers said, is a provision that won't require a secondary unit to have parking if it is near public transit or a car-share program.

Short-term rentals

According to City Attorney Bill McClure, the 30-day-minimum policy was proposed because the city has received complaints from neighbors of residents who have rented out their "granny" units on Airbnb or other short-term rental programs.

Since secondary units can be nearer to neighboring properties than main dwellings, they can have more impact on neighbors. Having vacationers or, say, a rowdy crowd in town for a Stanford football game, can cause problems, he said.

Large numbers of people, noise late at night and overnight parking violations were examples of ways neighbors have been affected, he said.

Short-term rental limits on other property types aren't currently being considered, Mr. Rogers said.

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