Called Bohemian GrOOve on their VRBO listing, neighbors call it The Fun Pig House.
LOT 095-182-006: What used to be officially 20591 Park Ave, a 2 bedroom Single Family Dwelling, has now been designated a multiple occupancy dwelling (duplex) with 2 separate addresses: 20590 Monte Rio Ave & 20592 Monte Rio Ave.
This property was sold to David Wilhoit in July 2012 as a single family residence/dwelling.
The main entry gate on MONTE RIO AVE still displays the wrong address:
The additional plumbing for a bathroom and kitchen in the "bonus area" were only added in 2012.
David did some minor some permitted repair work and then did the following un permitted work:
He extended the original street front fence at both ends to now total 89ft. The lot is only 45 ft wide at this location. This fence is a solid 6ft fence with no set back allowance from Monte Rio Ave. The fencing extension hides a hot tub on one side neighbor's property and gives the illusion of safe parking at the top of the hill, in front of their other neighbor's property.
He had work done on the septic. I don't know if this was a repair or replacement but the septic now has two above ground inspection ports that weren't there originally.
He did an illegal excavation at the bottom of the hill on Park Ave to create a parking "space" that is only 5.5 ft deep. When cars are parked there they are either partially or fully on the county right-of-way, hindering emergency vehicle access.
He built an exterior stair case to connect this parking "space" with the house at the top of the hill. This stair case, like the fence addition at the top of the hill, greatly encroaches on the neighbors property.
He added several drain pipes that now contribute to flooding on the easement access to Park Ave. Not sure how many of these drains are for storm water or gray water. Regular draining of their hot tub is also a contributing factor, not to mention an obscene waste of water during our drought.
David Wilhoit had talked to a neighbor about turning it into a duplex and was told he probably couldn't get clearance from the county to have the SFR reassigned as a Multiple Occupancy Dwelling on account of the septic and inadequate parking. Another neighbor and I met his parents, Bob and Mary Ann Wilhoit, and they said David was thinking of installing a spiral staircase to allow interior access to the lower level, making it more useful as a SFD.
After the property was resold in August 2013 we learned that David had illegally added a kitchen and bathroom to the lower level room. The home was purchased specifically as an investment property to be used as a Vacation Rental by Sarah Schisler, a realtor whose office is in the Montclair district of the Oakland Hills. Shortly after purchase she started advertising the property on VRBO.com: http://www.vrbo.com/505031 My initial complaint about them operating without a permit to PRMD was in Aug. 2014, 14 months ago. In 2014 Sarah Schisler $omehow got the single family dwelling designation changed by the tax assessor's office to a duplex with two street addresses. "Evidence" for this change of designation was supplied by Tom Lynch, who I'm concerned might be the same Tom Lynch who is the representative for District 5 on the Planning Commission (A conflict of interest in my opinion). Their application for a vacation rental permit was only started 4/16/15, after several complaints were made to the PRMD. As of today, Oct 5, 2015, their request for a zoning permit is still listed as INCOMPLETE*. On their VRBO listing they have variously described it as a 2 bedroom AND a 4 bedroom.
This property is flanked by Monte Rio Ave and Park Ave in Monte Rio, CA and has NO on-site parking. Two of the "on-site" spaces they reference are on Monte Rio Ave: they are on-street and don't even front their property. The illusion that these spaces front their property was further enhanced when the original street front fence was extended to 89ft, far exceeding the lot's 45ft width, in 2012. The retaining wall that was put in to support these "spaces" have no visible vertical supports other than two small bay trees and a redwood. Guests and the owners frequently squeeze 3 cars here, and partially block the narrow road.
I understand the concept of the PRMD not requiring survey proof from permit applicants
showing that they are applying for something that is actually on their property but a 45' boundary that has an 89' fence on it seems to be a no-brainer.
This is what Sarah Schisler describes as on-site parking for two cars on Monte Rio Ave in her vacation rental permit application. This turnout fronts the neighbor's property. Note that there is a curb bump defining the edge of the road.
The picture, below, shows where major excavation was performed across the road, prior to 2008, to create this parking area:
This is how the illegal vacation renters (and the owners) park:
That's 3 cars and a motorcycle, all in the road. Additional excavation was done in 2012 across the road to make it easier to turn around closer to the house rather than going down to the dead end turn around and to use for loose fill on the bogus on-site parking space. To hide the fact that this "parking space" was failing and to give the illusion that it could accommodate more than 1 car, additional partial fencing was erected on top of the original failing retaining wall. They used dirt, redwood duff, and twigs to block the straight-on view of the falling timbers.
Their handiwork, showing two small bay trees and a redwood used as sole support for the "retaining" wall:
View from below:
Remaining cross beams held together with nails and supported by bay trees:
This is what the area looks like today with loose fill and twigs removed to expose the risk:
Google Street View from 2008 showing appropriate (if minimal) caution tape:
This is where the OLD propane tank was before the hillside was excavated in 2012.
It was below the steeply leaning bay tree, about level with the yellow guy wire that is holding up the telephone pole.
Image was the Google Street View from 2008.
The hill to the left of the telephone pole is just as steep as the side that was excavated for the stairs and parking space and gives a reasonable reference point for figuring out how much was really excavated in 2012. The current Google Street View, showing the REPLACEMENT tank now above the steeply leaning bay tree.
Google Street View from 2008 (prior to excavation), showing the relationship between the telephone pole, the bay tree that is closest to the road, and the propane tank.
Similar current angle from Park Ave.
The wood in the "space" is from a tree that rotted and fell down. The are several other trees ready to fall down the hillside.
The exterior staircase going up the side of the hill is dangerous for high volume visitor use. It has a tendency to slide and I have observed visitor's unattended, young children playing on these stairs and on the steep hillside. It's an accident just waiting to happen.
I set a measuring tape to 7 feet, at the bottom of the excavation. The end of the tape is near the original 2nd stage regulator which was the location of the original propane tank. The tank use to sit on a flat ledge that is no longer there.
I tried to figure out how this could be called a 2 foot excavation and realized that
the inspection for the excavation violation report in 2012 must have measured from the retaining wall at the side of the stairs, not realizing that these stairs also involved an extreme amount of dirt removal at the same time as the illegal parking space. The area excavated for the parking space is horse shoe shaped and quite a bit higher at the middle of the back.
If you walk up the back stairs that were installed in 2012 there are numerous spots where the hill is sliding onto the steps because they DID dig so deeply into the hill.
I don't see how this can be considered safe for vacation renters and their children
OR as the intended main entrance to the newly designated duplex.
This is how they fit into this space when parked there.
Sometimes they leave their cars unattended and blocking the road completely while they are 100 feet up the hill:
On this particular weekend they had 10 vacationers who brought 7 cars. These two were parked on a neighbor's property. Two other cars took the only parking available for 2 other neighbors on Monte Rio Ave.
The only on-street parking on Park Ave and Monte Rio Ave are needed by the other property owners and residents.
Parked on lower road, Park Ave, leaving 5-6 feet of clearance:
The new owner was told by the county that they could put in a 3 ft retaining wall at the site of the illegal excavation. They then dumped loose gravel here and call it a parking space.The gravel is spilling into the road making it more difficult to keep clear of debris. Is new construction allowed on the county right of way? According the parcel map, the county has 30ft width allowance for Park Ave and Monte Rio Ave. Shouldn't new construction follow current emergency vehicle access guidelines?
The new stairs provide access to the un permitted work they had done on their cesspool in 2012.
New stairs leading down to their
cesspool, with a section with no handrail.
Top center: New fence encroaching on neighbor's property. Left: Stairs even further encroaching.
Most recent addition
to encroaching fence put up by Sarah S. in June 2015, after I talked to her about the encroachments David W. had done and suggested she should fix them:
Original rotten stairs were never removed but at least these original stairs seem to be on their actual property.
Don't know if they replaced the tank or or just did repairs but septic work WAS done in 2012.
I only hope it will be enough to support their currently advertised Sleeps 8 plus 6 visitors that they have requested in their permit application.
Both flanking roads are very narrow, single lane but two way, un maintained county roads on a steep hillside. The area is heavily wooded and a high fire risk zone.
The owner has been advertising as a vacation rental without a zoning permit on VRBO.com since 2013. Their visitors have consistently taken the limited and only street parking on both roads away from other residents. When these few on-street spots are taken by actual residents, they park illegally with their cars in the road blocking emergency vehicle access.
There was a fire on Monte Rio Ave on March 25th. The fire truck's outer wheels went off the road and the truck came close to plunging off the hill. On Saturday, April 11, I spoke with them about their noise waking me up at midnight. At this time I saw they had 3 cars squeezed into an inadequate on-street space with one car sticking several feet into the road. I told them about the recent fire and high fire risk of the area. They said that the 3rd car was just leaving. The next morning at 10:30 I drove up to access the top side of my property: the 3 cars were still there and a 4th car was left in the middle of the road, completely blocking access. I had to wake up the 3 people sleeping on the living room floor to move the car that had been left in the middle of the road overnight.
Can't help but feel sorry for the owner of this house who has to walk up about 90 stairs if he wants to ask vacation renters to move their chronically parked cars out of his front yard. The truck in the background give you an idea of how this dodgy "parking space" would slow down emergency vehicle response on Park Ave.
From the PRMD Staff Report - ORD14-001of Sept 3, 2015, page 7, paragraph 2, under Increased Opportunities:
"Currently, the vacation rental rules allow for a guest house to be used for vacation rental purposes only if it is used as part of a whole-house rental. A guest house has a maximum size of 640 square feet and has a full bathroom but no kitchen. Rental of a guest house alone is currently prohibited by the Code because guest houses may not be rented or leased separately from the main home. A change is proposed to allow an exception to this rule when a legally established guest house is offered as a hosted rental while the owner remains in residence in the main house. This change would apply to guest houses only; second dwelling units may not be used vacation rentals because they are considered to be affordable rental housing stock."
So according to this information supplied by the PRMD folks who are currently tasked with making recommended changes of the Vacation Rental Ordinance
to the Board of Supervisors, this application should have been immediately rejected. Right? Duplexes are separate multi occupancy dwelling units with kitchens! In Sarah's VRBO listing she explains that the lower unit can be rented for additional cost, but only to the same people who are renting the upper unit which would be in keeping with the rule about guest houses with no kitchens.
On Sept 27th I called the sheriff about a loud party after midnight. I rarely do this since my past experience with them on similar matters were" unproductive" and frankly left me feeling scared and incredibly vulnerable. I was asked by the sheriff who called me back if I tried asking them to quiet down since the sheriff's "hands were tied" and couldn't do anything about it since there is no noise ordinance. I was told to complain to the PRMD. It was a bit surprising that they would ask any citizen to confront a house full of drunks in the middle of the night... let alone a single woman who lives alone in the woods. I begged him to please go there and talk to them but don't know that he did. He clearly didn't want to. The party finally quieted down around 3am.
Here is how it showed up on the sheriff's website as a live event but low priority:
Turn up the volume until you can hear the crickets, which is ordinarily all you hear at night in the woods:
This last Saturday, Oct 3rd I woken up at 1:30am by another, even louder, party . Realizing that it was totally futile to call the sheriff's office I tried calling the emergency number listed on Sarah's incomplete vacation rental permit. I Felt uncomfortable bothering the housekeeper since the rental isn't even legal but I was feeling desperate. Since I got no answer I got dressed and walked up the hill in the dark to talk to the partiers. They were so loud they couldn't hear me knocking on the locked front gate so I had to kick the door until they answered. They were actually quite apologetic and told me they were under the impression that the rental was very private and quiet. (It's described as "peaceful and secluded" in the VRBO listing.) They had no idea that there were neighbors who could be disturbed. When I asked how many people were there they hesitated and said about 15.
The property's housekeeper returned my call the following morning and was very sympathetic and explained that she charges her phone overnight, apologized for that and really seemed genuinely unhappy (unlike my conversation with the owner) to learn that I was bothered and that it had been going on all summer. The following day when the group left to go sightseeing there seemed to be closer to 20 people. They were hauling garbage bags down the hill and asked me if there was a public dumpster. They really were trying to be responsible! I advised them to use the cans that the owner leaves on the roadside. After they left on Sunday I found all this garbage left out on the road and no garbage cans in sight. Later that day I met a new neighbor with 3 children who also was upset about the noisy parties and her young son said it woke him up too.
Garbage left out on the road Sunday morning, Oct 4, 2015 for raccoons. Garbage won't be collected until Tuesday:
This is how it looked Wednesday morning, the day after garbage service:
Their VRBO listing implies that the place will sleep 12 if you rent both units:
This is the 3rd time I've tried to submit a complaint online that would not got through, on 2 different computers:
Post it note on the incomplete permit application
from the end of April:
Here is the handy "historic proof" provided to the county by Tom Lynch:
And as a reminder:
OCTOBER 21, 2015 UPDATE
I sent another follow up complaint to PRMD via email:
>20590 Monte Rio Ave, Monte Rio, CA, 95462. Parcel #095-182-006
> Has continued to operate w/o a permit since 2013. My first complaint was Aug
> 2014. After further complaint they finally applied for a Vacation Rental
> Permit which has been listed as Inc-app since April 16, 2015. I went to the
> PRMD later that month and the file had been transfered from enforcement to a
> permit review planner. The documents he showed me had a post-it note reading:
> "Conditional septic- occupancy limited 1 bdrm 2 guests - CODE ENFORCEMENT"
> Have been woken up the last 3 weekends in a row by loud parties. More details
> are here: http://www.monteriocentral.com/vacrent.html PLEASE TAKE ACTION.
> This is getting incredibly frustrating and annoying. I was told that action
> would be taken on their 6 ft fence too. New information provided showing dangerous
> parking area. A follow up call to me would be greatly appreciated.
Two days later their permit application was approved* with the following code: APRVD_CC, Application approved, pre-operational conditions not met.
I did not receive a reply from PRMD. The notation to PRMD Code Enforcement from PRMD Planner regarding Conditional Septic, Occupancy Limited to 1 Br, 2 Guests seems to have been ignored. Is that what they mean by "pre-operational conditions not met" ?