Protect Our Neighborhoods – January 2017
Together as a community of neighbors let’s send the message that Palm Springs is no longer for sale to the highest bidder.
Much has transpired since Dec 14th, when the new Vacation Rental (VR) Ordinance 1907 was approved 4-0 by City Council. It was the result of several meetings between ourselves, VR representatives, residents and Council members Kors and Roberts. Rentals of 28 days or longer were exempt. So was “home sharing” where the owner was present.
The ordinance, though not perfect, was a step in the right direction and would go a long way in stopping outside business interests from coming into our neighborhoods and converting our homes to full-time commercial motels. The ordinance put a stop to more than one home per natural person operating as a short-term vacation rental. Another feature of the ordinance is the creation of a city department to receive and respond to all complaint calls directly (funded 100% by permit fees). No longer would owners and rental agencies be first responders to hotline calls. After months of meetings, we thought that this would be a compromise all sides could live with.
What went wrong?
Immediately after passage, a group of out-of-town multi-billion dollar business interests, joined by STR owners, local vacation rental agencies and realtors had second thoughts. They saw our city council was seriously concerned about the rights of residents and neighbors, and intent on curtailing the eight-year overreach of an industry that prior councils had facilitated. The new ordinance, which permits one STR per person, was suddenly unacceptable. And so these business interests spent thousands of dollars to collect petition signatures for a referendum that would kill the new ordinance.
One step forward and two steps back
Their dollars worked. The petition succeeded. The ordinance is now on “hold”. Voters in November will now decide whether to support a repeal of the new law, or allow it to move forward. In the interim, it’s back to the wild west, with nothing to keep big business interests from securing all of our homes and turning our blocks into motel rows. All profit, all the time.
We all know that short-term rentals have adverse effects on neighborhoods in many ways: The obvious effects being the noise and disruption to the quiet enjoyment of our homes (a right we are entitled to under our General Plan.) And there’s the added burden on residents of monitoring and reporting the disturbances. STRs come into a neighborhood like a tsunami, overtaking blocks of homes. Many neighborhoods, especially our more affordable ones, have 1 in 4 or more of their homes converted to transient lodging. When you lose neighbors you lose community.
Residents are not transient
STR guests are literally here today and gone tomorrow. Weekend partiers are here to have a good time. They haul their alcohol and chests full of food to enjoy around the pool. They cram as much fun and camaraderie as possible into their weekend, often with little consideration for neighbors or our city.
Let’s be honest: Residents are the economic backbone of any community. Palm Springs is no exception. We support our city in good times and bad. We donate to local charities, volunteer at the Animal Shelter, fill our schools, celebrate together and mourn together. We are a community that cares.
We are also the ones who lose sleep because of outdoor noise late at night, and we pick up trash left behind by party revelers (including the too familiar red plastic cups strewn on the curbs on Monday mornings.) We suffer from loss of neighbors who could keep an eye out for each other, or accept that occasional delivery, or hold a spare key. We all suffer because there aren’t enough of us to create adequate neighborhood watch programs. Many of us feel vulnerable and isolated without neighbors.
STRs remove housing inventory from long-term renters and first-home buyers, families who work here but must commute from miles away.We are all just one For Sale sign away from having a full-time transient motel next door to us.
And STRs compete unfairly with our iconic small hotels and inns which must adhere to strict and costly health and safety regulations. These legitimate inns and hotels cannot operate in R-1 zones but STRs can. Did you just read that our real hotels have an annual average vacancy rate of 38%? And that’s before the two new hotels open downtown, and before the new Tribe owned hotel breaks ground.
Finally, STRs have put a terrible burden on our police force. Last year alone, over 1400 police visits were made in response to STR disturbances and crimes. These are costly and precious hours diverted from patrolling our streets and responding to life and death emergencies.
Local communities worldwide are fighting back to save their neighborhoods. Let’s not be bullied by big business with big dollars to spend to manipulate the truth.
City council members and the city attorney have stated that full-time use of a single family home as transient lodging is an illegal use in residential zones. And PON agrees.
We are currently pursuing legal avenues in order to protect our neighborhoods from the risk of the repeal passing and the VR Industry and other outside business interests taking control from our elected officials. If the ordinance is not repealed it might itself be challenged in court by industry backers. Neighbors were willing to work with the ordinance as a first step but the "industry" was not. Now, the council, by law, cannot act.
Let’s work together to fix this
As we review the legal ramifications and possible court actions over the next weeks we request your support.
- Let us know if you have been affected personally by nearby short-term rentals. Have you had to move out of your home because of nearby STRs? Are you being harassed by STR owners or overnight guests, repeatedly disturbed by noise and other nuisances? Has the city been non-responsive to your complaints? Have you found it impossible to find long term rentals? Do you believe you were misinformed regarding nearby STRs when you purchased your home?
- Donate $50, $100, $500 or more to support our costs to win this battle for the future of our neighborhoods. We are stronger together and your contribution is critical to our success.
- Volunteer. We are a group of volunteers and welcome new energy and skills.
We are one community that refuses to let the out-of-town billionaires ruin our neighborhoods for their personal profit. Help us send them a message that Palm Springs is no longer for sale to the highest bidder.
Protect Our Neighborhoods