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City OKs vacation rental regulations

GRANTS PASS — The City Council has approved new regulations on vacation rentals and loosened restrictions on marijuana businesses in industrial zones.

In May, city officials realized that there was no part of the city code on overnight rentals. Locally, there are already dozens of listings for vacation rentals, particularly through the online listing agency Airbnb.

City officials say they have no intention of cracking down on homeowners who already have been renting out rooms without the proper permitting. The city discovered the discrepancy amid plans to rent out River Vista House at Reinhart Volunteer Park.

The new changes require all such listings within the city limits to obtain licensing through City Hall and adhere to all the new regulations, including parking restrictions and occupancy maximums during major holidays.

The changes, approved unanimously by the council, also allow the city to collect the hotel-motel tax on these stays. These funds are used in part to subsidize the city's tourism-related activities.

Regarding marijuana businesses, the council previously enacted buffers that prohibit marijuana business from operating within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, or a public library. In addition, no two marijuana retailers could open within 1,000 feet of each other.

This created a problem when the city received applications from a local entrepreneur to open a marijuana production facility in the area known as the Spalding Commerce Park.

The application triggered the buffer because the industrial park is near the Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Institution, a state youth-prison that plans to open a school program on a nearby lot.

The council decided that since there are no other schools in industrial zones and this was a unique case where the wording was more restrictive than intended, that a change to the wording was warranted.

Now, the buffer around schools does not apply in industrial zones.

The council approved of the ordinance 6-2, with councilors Tyler Flaming and Rick Riker opposed.