Palm Springs, California

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City Ordinance for Short Term Rentals in Palm Springs
Navigating the rules around short term and vacation rentals in Palm Springs



Situated in California’s desert and home to the famous Coachella music festival, Palm Springs joins various other vacation cities across the U.S. in grappling with a burgeoning short-term rental market. Since 2009, the number of rental properties in the Palm Springs area has more than doubled.  The apparent strains on the community are the reduction of housing availability for low-income residents and an increase in noise violations, disorderly conduct, traffic congestion, vandalism and illegal parking. The response to these strains has been a flurry of legal maneuvering: the City Council has passed several ordinances, neighborhood groups have filed lawsuits, and pro-STR groups have successfully called for referendums.



Main Takeaways:

  • Property owners can rent out their homes only 36 times a year.
  • New vacation rentals are limited to one per owner.
  • Guests are required to meet with owners for a review of the city’s short-term
  • As of March 2017, a new city enforcement body is responsible for assessing fine and penalties for violation of the city’s regulations.  A 24-hour hotline has been established to take complaints about a rental house.



Efforts to address the issues brought by short-term rentals in Palm Springs have been very contentious.  City officials have continued to butt heads with short-term rental owners, introducing several ordinance proposals.  In December 2016, Ordinance 1907 was approved 4-0 by the council and would have limited the number of homes that could be rented and the number of rentals that one person could own. However, under pressure of a voter referendum and industry groups, the council repealed the ordinance in February 2017.

A new ordinance,1918, was passed in March, 2017.  Mayor Robert Moon was the only dissenter, stating the latest ordinance made too many concessions to vacation rental owners.  The new VR Ordinance (1918) allows up to 36 rental contracts per year plus unlimited use by five designated “friends and family.”  In addition, the new ordinance grandfathered in those who already own multiple STRs, allowing the owners to keep them in perpetuity.

The compromises to vacation rentals led a group called Protect Our Neighborhoods (http://protectourneighborhoods.net/) to file a lawsuit last month against Palm Springs and the city council.  The group’s lawsuit claims that R-1 zones do not allow businesses to operate without a specific conditional use permit and that STRs are merely “small motels masquerading as vacation rentals.” The group feels like STRs prevent peaceful enjoyment of neighborhoods, cause unwanted noise, create “strangerhoods” which increase crime and leads to loss of community, present unfair competition to small hotels and inns, and remove affordable housing for long-term rentals and first-time home buyers.  In addition, Protect Our Neighborhoods wants a moratorium on the issuance of any new vacation rental certificates, claiming the city has yet not conducted a proper environmental review of the vacation rental industry's impacts on the city.  On May 1, a judge denied a request to issue an injunction which would have temporarily restricted Palm Springs' ability to issue vacation rental permits.

A group called Vacation Home Rentals and Neighbors of Palm Springs, VRON,  (http://home.vronps.org) is for allowing short-term rentals in the City and opposes efforts to initiate a special election to place the issue of vacation home rentals on the ballot.  In addition, while the co-founder of the group says they aren’t in agreement with the new ordinance, but are strongly in favor of low-tolerance of rules abusers.



Is my rental legal?

The steps to apply for a Vacation Home Rental are:

  1. Submit a completed Vacation Rental Application or a Homeshare Application.
  2. If your property has 5 or more bedrooms, you must complete the Estate Home Application Addendum in addition to the Vacation Rental Application.
  3. Submit a Transient Occupancy Tax Permit Application.
  4. Provide a completed Vacation Rental Property Pool Compliance Statement.
  5. If your property is located within an HOA, a letter from the Management Company or Board of the Directors of the HOA is required stating that you are not violating any HOA governing documents by operating as a short-term Vacation Rental in the City of Palm Springs (36 consecutive days or less).
  6. Provide a copy of your government issued ID.
  7. Provide payment for all applicable application/permit fees (Annual Registration Certification fee of $900 for condos and single family homes, but $225 for homeshare).
  8. Once the application is completed and received by the Vacation Rental Compliance Department, you may not advertise or rent the property as a short-term Vacation Rental until you have received written authorization from the Vacation Rental Compliance Department to proceed.  Typical processing time is 45 days.  
  9. For all Certificate renewals, beginning January 1, 2018, you must complete the Vacation Rental Registration Certificate Application.  Please plan accordingly and submit your Application at least 45 days prior to the expiration date of your current Certificate.
  10. A unique city ID number must be used on all advertisement for short-term rentals.



Click here to see a map (at the bottom of the page) that we made a while back that lays out all of the legislation in each major city and the procedures they need to take to ensure their STR is legal. Legislation may have changed though since we posted this map, so double check and make sure that the legislation is still up to date!



Resources:

City of Palm Springs City Council Phone Number: (760) 323-8200

Protect Our Neighborhoods: http://protectourneighborhoods.net/contact-us/

Vacation Home Rentals and Neighbors of Palm Springs, VRON: http://home.vronps.org


Sources:

City of Palm Springs. (n.d.). Application for a VR Certificate and Renewals. Retrieved from http://www.ci.palm-springs.ca.us/government/departments/vacation-rentals/applying-for-a-vr-certificate

 

Descant, S. (2017, May 18). Could Voters Decide the Fate of Palm Springs Rentals? Retrieved from https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2017/05/18/another-palm-springs-vacation-rental-petition-planned/329096001/

New Palm Springs Vacation Rental Ordinance Takes Effect Sunday. (2017, April 13). Palm Desert Patch. Retrieved from https://patch.com/california/palmdesert/new-palm-springs-vacation-rental-ordinance-takes-effect-sunday

Palm Springs Repeals Enhanced Vacation Rental Regulations. (2017, February 20). Ventura Vacation Rental Association. Retrieved from https://www.vvra.org/single-post/2017/02/22/Palm-Springs-Repeals-Enhanced-Vacation-Rental-Regulations

Some background. (n.d.) Protect Our Neighborhoods. Retrieved from http://protectourneighborhoods.net/history/