EDITOR: Healdsburg has been VRBO’d. VRBO is the acronym for Vacation Rental By Owner. If you go to VRBO.com and type in Healdsburg, you will find more than 170 listings. Rents range from $200 to $1,800 per night, which is five to 10 times higher than market rates. This makes housing in Healdsburg prohibitively expensive. It drives up rents and inflates home values, making it financially impossible for someone to live and work in town.
By city ordinance, vacation rentals are supposed to be illegal. So if the city is allowing them, why isn’t it collecting the transient occupancy tax? How much revenue is lost by not collecting the tax? Let’s do some arithmetic: Figure 170 homes rented at $200 per night for 15 days each month. That’s $510,000 a month in rent, or $6.1 million. At a transit-occupancy tax rate of 12 percent, that makes $734,400 in lost revenue.
The city should enforce its ordinance to better control this activity so the town doesn’t become a hotel. So the next time city government is crying the budget blues, you can point to this source of income.
THOMAS K. RACKERBY
Conservation made easy
EDITOR: An easy way to save a considerable amount of water over a short period of time is to install a water pressure reduction valve on the service line entering your home. The water pressure in Santa Rosa is 70-75 pounds per square inch. Installing a valve that lowers the pressure to 50 psi would save a lot of water over time.
Your washing machine, dishwasher and toilet all use a preset amount of water. There is no savings because the amount of water is fixed. The time to fill would be a little longer because of reduced flow pressure.
Saving water is about the time you spend in the shower, washing dishes in the sink, washing hands, face etc. As an example, say you spend six minutes in the shower, whether the pressure is 70 psi or 50 psi, you will still take a six-minute shower. However long you spend washing the dishes, the time will not change, but the gallons per minute will.
With every minute of water running at a reduced pressure, the savings will add up quickly.
EDITOR: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shirlee Zane and Francisco H. Vásquez for expressing their shock at Sheriff Steve Freitas’ putting Deputy Erick Gelhaus back on the streets, and for doing so without consulting the Board of Supervisors or the community (“Return of deputy was ‘slap in face,’ ” Close to Home, Friday).
I do not just find it arrogant. I find it a clear sign of disregard of the welfare of the Sonoma County. It will surely add to the divide between the Latino community and the community of the whole. Sad. Sad.
EDITOR: We hear the news reports about how few people have earthquake insurance. For the past 40 years, we have paid for earthquake insurance for our home and a home we rent. Over the years the rates have gone up and the coverage has gone down.
In 2012, we got a letter from our insurer saying it would no longer cover earthquakes, but we could sign up through the California Earthquake Authority. Our insurance company does the billing.