In what comes as a close of a contentious chapter, St. Helena city officials have hammered out a settlement with shared-home company Pacaso, putting to rest a legal standoff that began nearly three years ago. The City Council voted unanimously to put a cap on Pacaso's business model, effectively containing its sprawl within city limits to the existing four co-owned homes.
After Pacaso filed a lawsuit against St. Helena in April 2021, challenging the enforcement of the city's timeshare ordinance, city leaders stood firm, insisting on regulating fractional ownership and its impact on the residential landscape. The recent agreement bars Pacaso, or any related entities, from marketing or selling additional shares in single-family homes in the area, with the provision that the current four properties remain as legal but nonconforming uses, according to the City of St. Helena.
Mayor Paul Dohring expressed the City Council's viewpoint in maintaining the unique qualities of St. Helena's neighborhoods, stating, “This agreement, along with our updated timeshare ordinance, demonstrates our commitment to preserving the character of our vibrant and unique neighborhoods.” The settlement reflects a compromise, curtailing future timeshare expansion while avoiding the costliness and uncertainty of ongoing court proceedings.
Not fully shutting the door on Pacaso, the settlement allows for an 18-month window where the company can engage in talks with the city about its operations and potentially new revenue avenues. However, rigged with transparent public participation requirements, any discussion involving an expansion of Pacaso's footprint would need to jump through the hoops of public hearings and City Council action. Any such negotiations would be part of a noticed public meeting, ensuring community members can weigh in on the dialogues, the city emphasized.
St. Helena's City Manager, Anil Comelo, also weighed in, affirming the city's stance to resist timeshare expansion. “We are pleased to have reached a resolution with Pacaso that protects against the expansion of timeshare uses in our residential neighborhoods,” Comelo noted, highlighting the commitment to the well-being of St. Helena's residents and the protection of its characteristic small-town ambiance.