Palm Springs will draft competing vacation rental initiative

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Palm Springs voters could consider two competing measures about vacation rentals in an upcoming election.

A coalition of council members and public safety officials announced Wednesday they are requesting city staff draft a ballot measure that would require vacation rentals to comply with similar rules to the ones small hotels and motels in Palm Springs follow. Palm Springs city council members Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts, along with Police Chief Brian Reyes and Fire Chief Kevin Nalder, all cited public safety in a statement the city released following the press conference.

Back in November, the Palm Springs City Council approved an ordinance that set more restrictions on vacation rentals within the city. According to that ordinance, residents are limited to owning one vacation rental property, renting it out a maximum of 32 times per year and they must pay higher amounts for permits (from $234 annually to $900) as well as fines for ordinance violations. 

"What we're trying to avoid is people buying up neighborhoods for freestanding hotel room investments," Roberts told KPCC after the ordinance passed. "And that's where we were headed, and that's how we got into trouble, is it became very profitable for people to buy a house, or buy a number of houses, and simply use them as freestanding hotel rooms."

Both this new measure and another ordinance put forth by a group called Citizens for a Better Palm Springs challenge the ordinance the Palm Springs City Council passed in November. The Citizens for a Better Palm Springs measure seeks to alleviate restrictions on vacation rental properties and put the current ordinance up to voters.

The city-backed initiative would need to be approved by the full city council for it to appear on a ballot, while the initiative from Citizens for a Better Palm Springs needs to collect 2,600 signatures from eligible voters. 

With contributions from Sara Fay, Mike Roe, and Francine Rios

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