Brad Day | Guest Writer
Everybody loves a win-win. But occasionally we’re met with a lose-lose. When a Pacaso home moves into our community, nobody wins (other than Pacaso). Pacaso is the new well-funded real estate company that’s buying up single-family homes in residential neighborhoods across wine country. After they buy the house they flip it into a “fractional ownership” which is just another way of saying timeshare. They sell 1/8 ownerships in the home. Your “ownership” in the home is defined by the amount of time you’re allowed: a 1/8 share gets you 44 days, but no more than two weeks at a time. You’re able to gift your share to friends and family, like a timeshare. If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, you’re right. Who can keep track of the number of people coming in and out, having parties, and generally little regard for our community because, hey, they’re on vacation. Plus, they don’t pay the transient occupancy tax (TOT tax) like Airbnbs and other vacations rentals.
We understand that things evolve and change in our community. But hopefully it’s for the better. Adding timeshares into residential neighborhoods isn’t improving Sonoma. It will eventually destroy the sense of community for people who live and raise their families here. What is a neighborhood without true neighbors? It doesn’t really exist.
Sonoma has regulations and zoning in place to retain what makes Sonoma special in the first place. It’s why we don’t have a 3-story parking garage and Applebee’s on the plaza. We see that would be detrimental to what makes Sonoma the unique, independent, and beautiful town that it is. Allowing Pacaso to flip single-family residential homes into timeshares is no different.
Let’s be clear about what’s happening: Pacaso is skirting regulations to sell fractional ownership/timeshares in our communities. Any zoning that’s been put in place? It doesn’t matter because Pacaso buys the property as an LLC which currently allows them to disregard any regulations or zoning.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. If the Pacaso business model succeeds, then there will be competitors who may target a home in your neighborhood, because literally nothing is stopping them.
Let’s get our leaders to act now. Please write to your supervisor (1st District Susan Gorin), speak at the next City Council meeting, and have your voice heard. Together we can prevent Pacaso from profiting at the expense of our neighborhoods.
Photo: Brad Day, at left, and neighbors on Old Winery Court in Sonoma.