Well That’s Very Different…Never Mind

Emily Litella

There are three things you need to know before you head into this story:

  1. Next Door is as localized message board for neighbors to post notices about lost dogs or to inquire about what that noise was last night or to randomly spout off about politics. On that last point I’ve been known to call it QAnon for the slightly less crazy.
  2. Pacaso is a company that puts together groups of people to purchase properties as second homes and use them as “vacation” get away locations.
  3. Picazo Cafe is a beloved Sonoma restaurant famous for their burgers and nachos.

Pacaso, the real estate scheme, has been very controversial around these parts. While I and my neighbors all live here, we do understand that our little part of the world is a tempting vacation location, what with all our scenic beauty, pleasant weather, and oh yeah all those wineries with open doors and enticing aromas of fermented grapes.

Full disclosure, my day job as a tour guide is dependent on getting people to come and vacation here.

While we love our area for all the reasons stated above we also love it for our neighbors; for the connections we have made with the people who live next door or down the street or across town. They are our friends. And we welcome newcomers to the town. We want the just arrived to be as invested in our community as old timers are.

Which brings us to why Pacaso is so controversial.

When they put together 6-10 people who don’t know each other to purchase a single property as a second home to share on a rotating basis it not only takes that home off the market for potential sale to someone who actually wants to live here full time, it takes away a family completely invested in our community. This consortium of strangers won’t make connections in town, they won’t contribute to keeping our small businesses going, they will care more about short term value rather than long term growth. And most importantly, they will not vote here.

In addition Pacaso brokering a house raises the costs of buying property here. Everyone loves to have the value of their home go up, but around here most believe it shouldn’t come at the cost of not knowing who your next door neighbor is. Pacaso doesn’t look for one or two bedroom homes. They look for four or five bedroom homes, a bedroom for each of the members of the consortium. The kind of homes families move into. The kind of homes where kids play in the yard and go to the local school and declare to their parents “why do we live in the most BOOOORING place on earth?” only to come back after a few years away and say “wow, this is really a special place”. In other words, the kind of homes where the owners are fully invested in their community.

Years ago when AirBnB and Vrbo came into being, the people of Sonoma voted to limit the number of homes that could be used as “short term rental” housing for precisely the same reasons as why so many of us are against Pacaso. We want neighbors, not transient vacationers. Pacaso would effectively get around the short term rental restrictions by having “owners” who might use the property for themselves, or might allow a friend to use their allotted time for a small fee. All of which is why neighborhoods around town are dotted with handmade signs voicing opposition to Pacaso. Truly a grassroots movement.

And one other thing. Those Pacaso owners and their “friends” wouldn’t pay hotel taxes, the ten to twenty percent tax that gets included in your bill at the end of the stay and that goes no where else but straight into the county’s coffers. That tax is another reason we like tourists who stay in hotels — they keep our tax bills down. No hotel tax increase has ever been voted down in Sonoma, hardly surprising since the people who pay the tax can’t vote here.

OK, so now you have all the background. Let’s get to the funny part…

A few days ago, this thread appeared on Next Door:

Picaso Picazo

Pardon my poor photo editing skills but I wanted to make sure no one’s name or even location showed up.

And by the way, the food at the Maxwell Village Shopping Center location is just as good as their other older location. Not only did the original poster not know the difference between Pacaso and Picazo, he obviously wouldn’t know good food if it was served up by the explorer Pizzaro himself. Or Jean-Luc Picard for that matter. But then again he probably wouldn’t like pizza in the plaza with a side of polenta and a glass of pinot while pontificating on the provenance of pirated Picassos.

And by the way, if you think your neighborhood will be immune from the Pacaso pandemic because you don’t live in an area that’s a vacation paradise you might want to think again. Second homes are just the beginning for them. Their aim is to create mini mortgage magnets to attract middle manager mania that will turn the real estate market all meshugina.

Enough alliteration for one post.

That leaves the final word to the wonderful Emily Litella herself as personified by the gone waaaaay too soon Gilda Radner. If I’m wrong and there is a heaven, I hope you and Gene are doing a double and knocking ’em dead in the Big Room.

Please excuse the Chevy Chase appearance but it was necessary to set up the joke.

Shapiro Out

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