Know Your Snitch

by Michael Koepf, August 16, 2017

The letter arrived in the mail. They turned me down. Mendocino County refused to issue me a business license for short-term rentals. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors must be high-fiving on that. Brown and Hamburg are pumping fists. McCowen and Gjerde are dancing cheek to cheek. (Metaphorically I assume.)

They turned me down because a major use permit is required if the parcel does not have frontage on a publicly maintained road. How did they know this? I get my mail at a mailbox. Did they sift through the deeds and parcel maps? That would require some work, and county employees aren’t especially known for that. Consider for instance the publicly neglected road near my home. They haven’t adequately maintained that road in years. The vegetation at the side of the road has become a jungle. It encroaches the pavement. There might be dead cyclists hidden there.

Okay, maybe I shot myself in the foot because of an article I wrote last week in the AVA confessing—like a fool—that I lived on a shared lane off a publicly neglected road. Wait—the letter of denial was postmarked two days before that particular mistake. How did they snitch me off?

The digital snitch is here. A digital snitch has been paid to enter our county compliments of our county bureaucrats and our county board here in the heart of liberal land. Host Compliance ratted me off. What is Host Compliance? It’s a company based in San Francisco, and in its own words:

“Host Compliance helps municipalities understand the scale and scope of the short-term rental activity in their community and enact short-term rental regulation that minimizes any noise, trash, parking and traffic problems, as well as impacts on housing and neighborhood character. Once such rules are adopted, Host Compliance can manage the registration, permitting, compliance monitoring and enforcement processes so city (or county) staff can focus on higher value-added activities.”

What “higher value-added activities”? My county employees dream about retirement. They’ve plunged our country into millions of dollars of unfunded debt. Is it $600 million now?

But back to the digital leech in question. According to Ashley Tressel of the Ukiah Daily Journal, Host Compliance of San Francisco was paid to snitch off 69 unregistered host properties that are part of—in hysterical Ashley’s words— the plague of Airbnb. Host Compliance cost county taxpayers $20,000 dollars. That’s about $289 dollars for each airbnb plague carrier. The county could have paid considerably less to run a notice in the newspapers to remind plague carriers to pay up or dire consequences might result. How about $289 dollars per local ad? Who signed off on this duplicitous expense? Was it a bureaucrat acting anonymously, or was it our County Board of Supervisors: the two Dan’s, Croskey, Brown and McCowen? Can we get to the bottom of this?

The CEO of Host Complacence is a man by the name of Ulrik Binzer. I did some snooping of my own. He’s green. He may reside in expensive Tiburon and it’s proudly noted that he cleans up Angel Island. He’s like supervisor McCowen, who picks up after the bums to help keep their campsites clean. One of Binzer’s many listed accomplishments is that he was formerly the leader of a Danish platoon. Denmark? Is Ulrik an American? Is he nationalized? Does he hold a green card? Has he ever been to Mendocino County? Are outsiders controlling us now?

Binzer

Most people in Mendocino County could care less about short-term rentals. When it comes to their elimination, the victim pool is small. But purged they’re going to be, because most hosts for airbnb live off of publicaly neglected roads. They can’t afford a use permit. Short-term rentals will fold unless they’re rich enough to pay. The tourists will have to go back to the established B&Bs, and listen to the mice and termites in the walls while they pay three hundred bucks a night. It’s a fait accompli thanks to our forward-thinking Board, always looking out for the little guy.

I checked further into this mess. This is what is I learned: according to the county codes, if you engage in a Home Based Business and make less than $2,550 dollars a year, a business license is not required. Last year, because I’m not good at making beds, I made considerably less than that. Day cares with less than eight kids are exempt from obtaining a business license, with no limit to the profits made. If you’re a bank, a business license is not required. Insurance companies don’t have to apply; that goes for sawmills too. Sawmills! Why no exceptions for short-term rentals as long as they pay their occupancy tax? Additionally, if you want to grow your pharma-plants, you don’t need a business license to grow. Nor do you need to a use permit, even if your dope is four miles off a neglected county road, and you have twenty neighbors along the way that are frightened of home invasions and rippers sneaking around in the night. Note to growers: good luck with signing up with Mendocino County and the Government of California when it comes to legalization. According to Jim Shields, who seems to know what he’s talking about, the annual revenue for marijuana in Mendocino is from $700 million to a billion dollars. That’s a lot of unpaid county, state and federal taxes. A dope deal is a dope deal and everybody likes a cut. Think Federal government. I’ll bet there’s already a private, digital company waiting in the wings. Did you know that snitching off non-filers of unpaid federal income tax could result—at minimum—with 10% of all the funds recovered?

I’m out of business with airbnb. I don’t need, nor do I want a use permit. My county government doesn’t work for me. However, I’ve learned some things. Our county, with the exception schools and cops, operates exclusively for itself. It’s a growing trend.

Locally, present company included, it doesn’t take much of a brain to understand that Host Compliance is holding hands with county bureaucrats and our Board of Supes to prevent families from getting by—recall that couple on the coast; recall the mother and baby next door? Do you think the wealthy do short-term rentals on airbnb?

Nationally, we have an inarticulate man who sleeps in the White House on most nights. He’s much maligned and called every name in the book. You can hate him all you want, pray that impeachment will come next week, but what’s the single word that got him there: the swamp, the swamp, the swamp. Do we have that problem here?

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