[Humboldt County] Humboldt Grand Jury finds 'conflict of interest' with Trinidad City Council and its STRs

TRINIDAD, Calif. — 

Multiple members on the Trinidad City Council were found by the Humboldt Grand Jury to have conflicts of interest when it came to decisions made about the town's Short Term Rentals.

Otherwise known as STRs, they are considered to be rentals that last for a day or two, sometimes more. People who own a residence can rent it out for a short amount of time to whoever they want and whenever they want, depending on the situation. Some examples of STRs include Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.

The Grand Jury report stated that there were multiple members of council who owned STRs, stating that it makes it a conflict of interest.

Councilmember Jack West says people have been concerned about the increase of these STRs in their town and the council said they are doing everything they can to fix it.

However, resident of 20 years, Kathleen Lake claims the council isn't doing anything about it.

"We haven't seen any action on the part of the council," said Lake. "We don't see any evidence of them even going part of the way to lead us out of it, it's kind of like, so sorry."

West disagrees, saying that the council has been in the talks of a committee which consists of those who own an STR and those who don't. Hoping that the committee would be able to solve the issues in an even manner.

"Those who rent out STRs don't realize how noisy they are or what time they're coming in, so that's a big thing that we're trying to address," said West. "One of the things we are working on is enforcement. How do we enforce this with the limited staff and the limited people we have here though?"

The 2018 United States Census put the town of Trinidad at 360 in population. Both West and Lake have said they feel that the increase of STRs in the town only grows more concerning because it is so small.

West answered Lake's concern and said ordinances have been put in place to help solve the problem somewhat. He says they have put an ordinance in place that sets a cap for the amount of STRs located within a residential area.

The Trinidad council meeting is set for Wednesday; West says that is when they will respond to the Grand Jury's report.

September 7, 2018

KRCR News Channel 7

By Dylan Brown