On Monday, October 12th, a fellow short-term owner and manager told me to look at the city council meeting agenda that week. I was shocked to find that the banishment of short term rentals in public neighborhoods would go for it’s first of two rounds of votes that very Thursday, October 15th. The notice had gone out on Tuesday, just 72 hours before. As a licensed STR, we all receive regular communication with the city regarding closures or modifications due to the coronavirus epidemic as it relates to county and city orders. We believe this new proposed ordinance change was never sent to any short-term rental owner or manager.
Quick mobilization from a dedicated core of STR owners and operators resulted in a surprising number of people being present for the Oct 15th City Council meeting. Following four hours of testimony, about 90% in opposition to the proposed ban, the Council voted 5 to 0 to move forward to the second vote to ban short term rentals in public neighborhoods (around 121 certificates) on January 1st, 2021. The Council attended the meeting that day via Zoom, and the camera was rarely recording their faces. When it was, the audience viewed council members getting up from their chair and wandering around their home, having conversations off-camera, and even napping. We encourage you to view the footage of the meeting and please don’t skip The Councils statements at the end:
The final vote on the ordinance change would be on November 5th. Before the end of October, Vacation Rental Owners & Neighbors - Rancho MIrage (VRON-RM) was formed, thanks to the assistance of the VRON stakeholders in Palm Springs. Their mentorship quickly brought our team up to speed to hit the ground running.
The November 5th meeting went much of the way the October meeting went. Owners and managers, guests, and neighbors (most of whom were opposed to the city and their shoddy process) gave testimony. The city had still not produced the evidence that triggered this quick penalization. The actual citations were still not available to the public. Only the number of calls to the hotline were offered up as the impetus of this sudden turn in the city’s views. Despite the overwhelming positive short-term rental testimony, The Council voted 1 to 4 in favor of the ban. December 31st, 2020, would be the last night we could rent to all the guests we had invited to our city. Just as we recovered from the closures of the pandemic, we would now be shut permanently, with no clue it was coming.
Even now, they still deny us access to the STR certificate holders or their managers, so we can let them know that come December, they will not be able to get a new 2021 certificate to rent their home. The city has vowed to step up their enforcement of all known short term homes to ensure no city ordinances are being violated.
VRON Palm Springs has made it possible for us to fight for our property rights without delay. We are not giving up; we are not backing down. This punitive ban brought about in the dead of night is full of both political and legal pitfalls. We have already gathered a group of experts with a proven track record in fighting city government overreach. We are currently filing to put a temporary stop to the ban and fight for the investments in our homes, the loss of income to us personally, the loss of travel funds for our guests, and a loss of revenue to those we employ. Most importantly, to prevent our personal property rights from being trampled.
When we succeed, VRON-RM will continue to organize and fight, so this never happens again. We will help our desert neighbors engage in their cities, as Palm Springs has helped us. The Coachella Valley’s primary resource is tourism. The economy benefits from responsible short-term neighborhood home rentals that are safe, clean, and properly regulated by the city to aid the neighborhood and the broader community’s economy.
VRON-RM operates as a non-profit organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors. STR owners, agencies, neighbors and all who want to enjoy personal property rights, are encouraged to join.