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Palm Springs Repeals Enhanced Vacation Rental Regulations

In December of 2016 the City Council of Palm Springs passed enhanced vacation rental regulations. However, on Wednesday Feb 15, 2017 The City Council of Palm Springs voted 3-1 to repeal ordinance 1907. Below is an excerpt from the Desert Sun article written by Skip Descant and Corinne S Kennedy. Palm Springs has effectively been left without enhanced vacation rental regulations after a motion to repeal and replace the measure passed by the City Council in December passed and a subsequent motion to adopt an interim urgency vacation rental ordinance failed.

During its Wednesday night meeting, council voted 3-1 to repeal ordinance 1907— the measure adopted in December which limited the number of times a home could be rented and the number of vacation rentals one person could own — and then also voted 3-1 to replace it with a revised urgency law that tinkers with some of the more contentious points in the ordinance. However, the urgency ordinance needed a four-fifths majority to pass, so the 3-1 vote ultimately tanked the measure. Councilman Chris Mills abstained from the votes as his wife owns a vacation rental property.

Mayor Robert Moon voted against the measures, saying he thought 1907 was a well-crafted ordinance and, listening to the disparate opinions voiced in public comment, thought there was no easy answer and the best way forward was to put the law to the voters for final approval.

“I think the only way to get the answer that is right for our community is to let the community vote on it,” he said. He did, however, vote to send the rejected urgency ordinance to the Planning Commission for consideration.

Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat joked that it was now the "wild, wild west" and the city would become a free-for-all for those seeking vacation rental permits.

The rejected interim urgency ordinance seemed to have the support of the local vacation rentals industry. “Though apprehensive about the effect of these changes on our members and to the economy of Palm Springs, we support this new ordinance and the opportunity to meet monthly with the city’s new Vacation Rental Department to ensure these changes are enforced and monitor their effects,” the Palm Springs Vacation Rental Tourism Association, which represents a number of the larger short term rentals management firms like Acme House Co., McLean Company Rentals and Oranj Palm Vacation Homes, stated in a Feb. 13 letter to city officials.

The move to replace the ordinance followed the political action committee Citizens for A Better Palm Springs’ successful petition drive to put the ordinance on the November ballot for an up or down vote. The PAC opposed the new ordinance, saying it was overly restrictive.

“By rescinding (ordinance No.) 1907, that effectively kills the referendum,” said City Councilman J.R. Roberts during a press conference Wednesday morning to unveil the council’s new strategy toward vacation rentals regulations. However, without the urgency ordinance to replace it, the city will default to the regulations which were in place before December.

About two dozen people, the majority against the repealing of the previous vacation rental ordinance, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, many bemoaning a lack of transparency on the vacation rental subcommittee comprised of Roberts and Kors.

Stephen Rose, who has been outspoken about vacation rental issues, said the council could not claim to be transparent when it held closed-door discussions with multiple representatives of the vacation rental industry before proposing the urgency ordinance. He asked the council to let residents decide at the ballot box.

“Let us vote. I am not intimidated by the out-of-state corporate suits,” he said. “The Citizens for a Better Palm Springs can put all the lipstick they want on this pig.”

Resident Steve Rosenberg attempted to ceremonially shred a copy of a vacation rental ordinance at the speaker’s podium. He called Kors and Roberts “phony” and “bologna” and told them to go back to the drawing board and start over.

Kors asked City Attorney Doug Holland to clarify legally whether it was inappropriate for him and Roberts, as an ad hoc committee, to have meetings with persons from the vacation rental industry. Holland said it was not.

Kors said they met with “all kinds of people,” including representatives of the vacation rental industry and supporters of the original ordinance.

Roberts said if it were an easy problem to fix, it would have been done long ago, and that he and Kors understood any vacation rental ordinance would often be changed.

“I’m not married to the recommendation that we’re bringing,” he said, adding the ordinance was brought to allow himself and Kors to hear the recommendations from the rest of the council.

Others, like realtor Chris Bale, told the council it is moving in the right direction. Bale pointed out that transient occupancy tax, which is collected on hotel and vacation rental stays, accounts for almost 10 percent of the city’s annual revenue.

“I’m curious if they want 10 percent less services,” he said, referring to people opposed to the ordinance. “Do they know how we’re going to make that up?”

Lisa Riding, Palm Springs general manager for national vacation rental company TurnKey, said she did not believe the urgency ordinance was necessary and asked the city to enforce current regulations before adding new ones, adding that her company supports “conscientious, common sense regulations.”

“Our company has advanced technologies in place to extensively screen guests, enforce occupancy limits, monitor excessive noise, alert private security and ensure homes are safe and clean for every guest.” Read the entire article at the Desert Sun

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