One of the hottest issues of the year revolves around short-term vacation rentals (STVRs are rentals of 27 days or less), and whether they should be banned completely in identified residential zones. A ballot initiative is circulating from Palm Springs Neighbors for Neighborhoods that would restrict rental periods to 28 days or more in R-1 single-family residential neighborhoods. I support this initiative.
I believe the greater part of the STVR turmoil is arising from “party houses” that populate during the boisterous three-day weekends when vital Palm Springs opens its doors to tens of thousands of out-of-town guests, and many of our local folk pay the price with noise violations in areas that are designated for residential “peace and quiet.” Does the law protect homeowners? It does. I am a professional planner, so it goes back to basic zoning laws. Residential designations are classified for home use, and any commercial use that is allowed under the zoning protections must be ancillary to and compatible with the primary use.
The City’s website has compelling data, and so does the website for Protect Our Neighborhoods. The neighborhood maps show 2,300 homes converted to hotel use in sensitive neighborhood areas. Eighty percent of the rental owners do not live in Palm Springs. Over 500 complaints were filed in 2015 alone. The City’s data shows an average 25-30 complaints a week; the primary complaints being loud music, outside shouting and late-night activity. Out-of-town owners who are not living out the misery may miss the income opportunity, but are they at least sleeping at night?
There has got to be a better solution. I support reasonable use of property by owners whether or not they live in Palm Springs. I am aware that innocent property owners, about 60% that don’t get complaints, are paying the price and that is deeply unfortunate. But hundreds of noise complaints spread throughout a City renowned for its beauty, vitality, and inherent charm is a situation that calls for adequate protection, and the rental properties are exploding in numbers, and affecting long-term rental markets.
My original proposal was for a greater meeting of the minds. Bring in the professional planners on the General Plan Update, and let’s develop a solid understanding of the base data, and the base responsibilities – and come together as a community. If the ballot initiative passes, much will be taken out of our hands, but not all.