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Napa Valley Register March 23, 2022
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Napa Valley Register March 23, 2022

St. Helena City Council strengthens timeshare ban over Pacaso’s objections

In a victory for Pacaso’s critics, the St. Helena City Council has amended its ban on timeshares to expressly prohibit the company’s home co-ownership model.

“We have a place for tourists, and it’s not in our neighborhoods,” said Vice Mayor Paul Dohring.

The council passed the new regulations 5-0.

Pacaso sued the city last April after city officials told the company that its activities were banned by St. Helena’s prohibition on timeshares.

City officials still maintain that Pacaso’s co-ownership method was already prohibited under the city’s existing timeshare ban. The new ban adopted by the council modifies the definitions of terms like “time-share plan” and is intended to remove any doubt about the matter.

The ban applies to all residentially zoned property, but it allows timeshares as a conditional use in the Service Commercial and Central Business districts.

Pacaso establishes a limited liability company to take ownership of a house and allows up to eight parties to buy shares in the LLC and use the house for two to 14 days at a time.

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In public statements and court filings, Pacaso has insisted that its houses — including four in St. Helena — are not timeshares. The company says it’s trying to expand access to second-home ownership to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

Naseem Moeel, public affairs manager for Pacaso and a St. Helena resident, said the new regulations are overly broad. She said they will have unintended consequences for siblings who’ve inherited a house or friends who share a home but stay there at different times.

“Anything short of 100 percent use by a single family threatens to sweep St. Helena property owners into accusations of being a timeshare,” Moeel told the council.

Neighbors say Pacaso homes have all the same negative effects as timeshares: loud parties, obnoxious guests, parking problems, and the loss of much-needed housing for locals.

Those critics applauded the city’s modified timeshare ban.

“It is an excellent document that will protect our residential neighborhoods from further encroachment from companies like Pacaso and their unregulated, transient occupancy timeshares,” wrote St. Helena resident Connie Wilson.

Pacaso conducted a public relations campaign over the last week. Residents received mailers, phone calls and text messages encouraging them to tell the council not to adopt the new regulations.

The mailer said the council should “focus on the real issues” like water, wildfires and the economy. It also said the city shouldn’t “waste millions of dollars in unnecessary litigation costs at the expense of other priorities.”

Anti-Pacaso residents called that message misleading, since it was Pacaso that sued that city, not vice versa. Dohring called it “a disinformation campaign.”

“This is America and we have free speech rights, but I would caution you not to do that in the future, because it’s not working,” he said.

Out of 28 written public comments posted on the city’s website, all but two are opposed to Pacaso.

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or


Jesse Duarte

St. Helena Editor

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.