ALERT:
Fireworks, Stakeholders, Lawsuit, Initiative, Illegals, and TV Coverage!!! Oh My!!!

July 3, 2017

Fireworks are illegal and dangerous!
Remember to celebrate safely. Fireworks are illegal anywhere in the City of Palm Springs. They are dangerous to users, frighten animals, and are a fire hazard. If you see or hear them at a vacation rental property, contact the Vacation Rental Hotline at (760)322-8383. You do not have to provide your name or phone number.

City holds first vacation rental stakeholder meeting
The new department formed to oversee enforcement of our vacation rental ordinance held its first stakeholder meeting two weeks ago. We were invited to represent PON; and as requested, provided names of two representatives who would sit at the head table with other organizations representing rental companies.

When we arrived, we were told the format was changed. And that since “all citizens are stakeholders, everyone will have an equal chance to speak.” Except that after the first speaker, who was a plant and was directed by one of the VR department directors, exactly where to sit so as to become the first speaker, who then rambled on for ten minutes about how great all his VR neighbors are. After that plant, a two-minute limit was placed on all subsequent comments.

PON was requested to prepare discussion items, and submit these to the department in advance of the meeting. We included specific areas of concern, such as:
• Why are properties with suspended permits still operating?
• Why are properties with suspended permits allowed to advertise on Airbnb?
• What can the new department do to shutter and evict illegal rentals?
• What specific, measurable objectives do you have to determine program success?
• Where are the guidelines, written operating procedures and training manuals?
• What is a courtesy warning?
• Why are courtesy warnings given to tenants, if they aren’t part of the ordinance?
• Why are “sound amplification meters” used to determine a “violation”? If the inspector hears outdoor amplification at any level at the property line a citation is warranted. It is NOT a judgement call. It is a code violation.
• How does the new department capture costs of all vacation rental police calls, code enforcement department calls, retirement pension liability, office space, vehicle purchase and other direct costs to assure that taxpayers are not subsidizing this operation?

Obviously, with the format for this meeting having been changed at the last minute, and with just two minutes at the microphone, we could not have a meaningful discussion on any of the aforementioned. PON will continue to seek answers to these issues which preclude the department from operating in a transparent, high-performing manner which protects the interests of residents.

We also provided the department a list of web sites of dozens of illegal vacation rental advertisements—missing permit numbers, for example, or unregistered homes.

The statistic of the evening: “1800”
That’s the number of unpermitted STRs the city claims it discovered since January 1, 2017. We were incredulous to hear that 1800 number, and sought—and received—an email confirmation two days later. So with the 2100 permitted plus the 1800 unpermitted, our city has about 30% of its housing stock engaged in the vacation rental business. What the city is doing about these scofflaws is anyone’s guess. We continue to seek answers.

KESQ I-Team investigates vacation rentals
TV station KESQ did an investigation into the STR issue in Palm Springs, and interviewed PON representatives.

Issues included our PON lawsuit against the City of Palm Springs, the new department created to enforce the vacation rental ordinance and a ballot initiative effort underway by the new organization Palm Springs Neighbors for Neighborhoods (www.psn4n.org). The initiative, if successful, would ban vacation rentals completely in R-1 zones of the city. You can learn more about the initiative and sign up for email alerts on the PSN4N website.

An industry spokesman claimed erroneously that Transit Occupancy Taxes from STRs generate 15% of city’s revenue. The actual number is far less: 6%, according to the city’s own data.

You can view the report here: http://www.kesq.com/news/investigative/palm-springs-vacation-rental-ordinance/560122874

Lawsuit against the city
PON’s lawsuit against the city is working its way through Riverside County Superior Court. After it was filed, the suit was handed to a different judge who, coincidentally, oversees another city lawsuit regarding the 750 Lofts hotel. Our suit contends that R-1 zones do not allow for businesses to operate without a specific conditional use permit. We continue to believe that residential zoning is exactly that, and small motels masquerading as vacation rentals most weeks out of the year are much, much more than incidental or ancillary uses of a home. Our attorney is also concerned that the city, even with the new department in place, is either unable or unwilling to put a halt to illegal rentals at homes which are in litigation with the city. In Araby, even after a permit was revoked, and the homeowner sued by the city, the owner continues to advertise online, and rent illegally. The city’s response? “Call the hotline and report it”. We will stay on this issue until we get a straight answer from the city on why this is allowed to continue unabated.

PON believes neighborhoods are for residential use, not commercial use, and our zoning code supports that. We appreciate your continued support, especially your financial help with our legal costs. Please consider volunteering your time or donating today to help win this battle for the future of our neighborhoods. We are stronger together.

Please help us today, as we fight to Protect Our Neighborhoods!

Your investment in your home, in your neighborhood and in your community is depending on it.

We appreciate your donation of $50, $100, $500 or more.* You can donate securely through PayPal, from our website.

Or mail a check today to:

Protect Our Neighborhoods
P.O. Box 4453
Palm Springs, CA 92263

Thank you,

Michael D. Ziskind / Chairman
Board of Directors
Protect Our Neighborhoods