Have you heard of Pacaso? It’s an insanely successful real-estate startup from San Francisco that lets buyers co-own luxury homes on the timeshare model, then use the Pacaso app to take care of all the scheduling and maintenance stuff. Ever since Pacaso set foot in Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Valley a few years ago — buying up fancy rural homes, then dividing them between around eight owners each — the company and its model have been dragged through the mud by the local NIMBY set. Dry Creek neighbors have argued that “the very fabric of our valley, our agricultural roots and rural and social landscape are diminished by the intrusion of Pacaso’s for-profit business.” Still, the billion-dollar company has forged ahead, expanding into the Napa Valley and other communities across the U.S. — and getting similar pushback in some. Activists here in the wine country have made enough noise that various local government entities have reportedly blocked them from flipping any more properties. In response, Pacaso has started to get creative and come up with new sub-models. On the outskirts of St. Helena, for example, they’re letting customers lease (instead of buy) a portion of a historic local inn called the Ink House for around $85,000 per year. Which brings us to the latest development here in Healdsburg, flagged to the Tribune by former local attorney Janis Watkins. She noticed that Pacaso is now advertising four more rural Healdsburg properties on their website: mansions on West Dry Creek, Westside and Mill Creek roads. Plus a bunch more properties in Windsor and Cloverdale. But this time, they’re listed under a “DIY co-ownership” model. Which means Pacaso will help you purchase a home with other buyers and set up a timeshare yourself, for a fee — instead of them dealing with the whole thing themselves. (Which also presumably saves Pacaso the headache of navigating local regulations.) Here’s how Pacaso describes this new service on their website: “In addition to turnkey vacation homes, Pacaso offers à la carte services to support two types of independent co-ownership: Buyers co-owning a vacation home and buyers co-owning a primary home. Access legal templates and detailed completion instructions tailored to each home.” Former local attorney Watkins says she’s worried that this will set a dangerous precedent for Healdsburg housing — so she’s urging city officials to crack down on timeshares. Meanwhile, Pacaso’s co-founder and CEO tells CNBC: “We operate in more than 40 markets nationwide and in only a handful are we misunderstood. Our approach is to work with policymakers and educate them on the facts and benefits. Our belief is that over time this will prevail. It hasn’t worked in Sonoma yet and a small handful of communities who have passed ordinances to resist the model.” (Source: Healdsburg Tribune & Pacaso & Pacaso & CNBC & Stop Pacaso Now)

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Simone Wilson was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where she was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound's Bark. She has since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. Simone is now a senior product manager and staff writer for the Healdsburg Tribune.


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