Palm

Last week's Desert Sun editorial is right, saying that allowing short-term vacation rentals in a town takes a lot of city work.

a sign with a mountain in the background: The Palm Springs population sign reads 43,976 from the last census ten years ago. This sign is along Hwy 111 near Snow Creek Road, Thursday, August 12, 2021. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun The Palm Springs population sign reads 43,976 from the last census ten years ago. This sign is along Hwy 111 near Snow Creek Road, Thursday, August 12, 2021.

Now it's time for the Palm Springs City Council to start doing that work.

While desert cities like Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, La Quinta and Palm Desert have chosen to limit or ban STRs, Palm Springs' approach is the opposite: We essentially rubber stamp new vacation rental permit applications without any regard to how overly saturated our neighborhoods are with these mini-motels.

The result is we're now up to 2,254 short term rentals in Palm Springs, an increase of 26% over the past three years. But citywide numbers don't tell the story, because some neighborhoods are more impacted than others.

In Racquet Club Estates, Deepwell, The Movie Colony and elsewhere, neighbors often find themselves surrounded on all three sides by STRs. Neighbors in Vista Las Palmas tell me there are 18 vacation rental homes in a four-block stretch of North Rose Avenue.

There is no justification for that. The city would never allow 18 liquor stores or 18 cannabis dispensaries in a row. We need a cap on the number of STRs that are allowed in each neighborhood and a moratorium on issuing new citywide STR permits until we can assess their full impact.

Now that we've had three years living under the current STR ordinance, its flaws are becoming evident.

As it stands now, when a homeowner calls the Vacation Rental Hotline to complain about noise, a code enforcement officer is dispatched to measure noise levels with a meter. But unless the STR is blasting amplified music, it's almost impossible to catch a noisy renter and issue a citation. That's because people screaming, dogs barking, etc. must be at a constant level for a sustained period of time, which is not how most people party.

So a homeowner might be awakened at 2 a.m. by partiers, but the odds of catching them in the act is slim. This is not to mention the fact that it's the full-time homeowner who has to be the first responder: getting out of bed, reporting the incident, waiting to hear back from an officer, meeting the officer to give access to the homeowner's adjacent yard to take readings, etc.

Hank Plante © Courtesy Hank Plante Hank Plante

Another impact of the current system is its impact on what some think is the No. 1 issue in Palm Springs: our lack of affordable housing.

We have taken 2,254 homes out of the available housing stock to be used as mini-motels. Since these are investment properties, it stands to reason that many, perhaps most, would otherwise become long-term rentals for working class families. If you wonder why we don't see more people of color living in Palm Springs, look to the vacation rental homes that sit empty for long periods of time.

Of course, STRs bring money to the city in the form of permit fees. But is it worth it?

The city got along fine before we had these fees, and we would get along fine without them. Indeed, we have passed two tax measures in recent years that have left the city in good shape financially. Besides, not every city decision should be based on money. Quality of life is always more important. And as for the financial impact on STR owners, many of us feel that it's not our job to subsidize someone's retirement home.

Great cities don't survive on their own without nurturing and care. To not know our neighbors, to not be able to sit peacefully in our yards, to not enjoy the peace and serenity that makes Palm Springs so special are heartbreaking losses. Our neighborhoods are worth saving.

Hank Plante is an Emmy and Peabody-winning journalist who spent three decades reporting for the CBS TV stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He and his husband are 20-year Palm Springs homeowners. Email him at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: If Palm Springs isn't going to ban short-term rentals, it needs more limits

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/if-palm-springs-isnt-going-to-ban-short-term-rentals-it-needs-more-limits/ar-AAPSkbK

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