By Skip Descant – For now there will be no moratorium on new vacation rentals in Palm Springs as city leaders opted to explore changes to the proposal to better accommodate the tourism industry and neighborhood groups.
The move keeps in place Palm Springs’ vacation rentals policy, and the city will resume issuing new permits Thursday.
City Council had been prepared to explore placing a temporary moratorium on new vacation rentals, a move that galvanized opposition and support and drew hundreds to Palm Springs City Hall on Wednesday.
Sensing the passion from each side, Mayor Robert Moon announced via Facebook, that the council will limit the number of speakers to 10 persons from each side. However, at the start of Wednesday night’s meeting the item was pulled from the agenda.
The crowd – filling the main council chambers and an overflow conference room – erupted in applause after learning the issue has been put on hold and City Hall would resume issuing permits.
The move to restrict rentals bubbled to the surface over the weekend, prompting sharp criticisms from the tourism industry, saying such a significant issue should not be rushed as an “urgency ordinance” without hearing thoroughly from stakeholders.
“This has also been about due process,” remarked Kelly McLean, of McLean Company Rentals, one of the longest running vacation rentals management firms in the city.
“We want to work with the subcommittee process,” said McLean.
“This proposed ban, though temporary, has already created economic turmoil in the real estate industry and business communities,” wrote the Palm Springs Vacation Rental Tourism Association in a statement Wednesday. “It does nothing to address the main concerns of residents and the root problem of enforcement, and poses the real threat of creating more problems by forcing future rentals underground with no accountability to the city and residents.”
A moratorium would have required approval from a super-majority of four out of five council members. It could have placed a moratorium on new vacation rentals until March 31, 2017, according to city documents.
From July 2015 to April, Palm Springs collected $21,769,881 in transient occupancy taxes. The city’s 1,819 registered vacation rentals accounted for more than 25 percent of Palm Springs’ TOT collections.
Since the city of Palm Springs began tracking the number of vacation rental properties in 2009, it has seen a 94 percent increase in the number of certified vacation rental properties. The city estimates that almost 10 percent of all the “roof-tops” in the city are now certified vacation rental properties.
Marla Malaspina, part of the steering committee for Protect Our Neighborhoods, said in an email that the moratorium on all short-term vacation rentals gives the city time to meet with more stakeholders and learn about the impact vacation rentals have on the city.
Protect Our Neighborhoods, an organization representing people who feel short-term rentals are bad for the city, disputes that these ordinances will depress property values and believes the only people hurt by this moratorium “is the vacation rental industry and its outsider clients who couldn’t care less about the quality-of-life issues facing residents,” Malaspina said earlier this week.