Tag: ordinance

Palm Springs sees spike in vacation rental complaints. No plans to change ordinance

On a steamy Sunday afternoon in early August, a Palm Springs code enforcement officer arrived at a luxurious vacation rental property to inquire about a noise complaint that came into the city’s hotline.

Video: Coachella Valley vacation rentals popular destinations during the pandemic.

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The officer could hear “Brickhouse” by The Commodores playing from the side of the street, according to a city hotline log. Ultimately, the officer issued a citation, one of 159  issued to Palm Springs vacation rental properties in June, July and August.

That figure represents a 150% increase in the number of citations issued to Palm Springs vacation rentals compared to the same months last year. The majority of citations stemmed from loud music, which comes with a $500 fine to the guest. Others were issued over parking, operating without a license, or other violations.



Palm Springs cracked down on vacation rentals because of neighbor complaints, this fall they are updating the ordinance. Locked key boxes used by vacation renters are photographed at the Biarritz condos in Palm Springs, Calif., on November 12, 2019.


© Taya Gray/The Desert Sun
Palm Springs cracked down on vacation rentals because of neighbor complaints, this fall they are updating the ordinance. Locked key boxes used by vacation renters are photographed at the Biarritz condos in Palm Springs, Calif., on November 12, 2019.

The spike was coupled with an unanticipated influx of visitors venturing to the desert in the summer heat for longer-than-usual stays to break from sheltering in place.

Bruce Hoban, the co-founder of the Vacation Renter Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs said the increased number of bookings this summer stemmed from pent-up demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, where “everything was shut down for three months and then all of the sudden you can go get a vacation rental.”



chart, bar chart: This chart from the city of Palm Springs shows the overall number of citations issued to vacation rentals.


© Courtesy of the city of Palm Springs
This chart from the city of Palm Springs shows the overall number of citations issued to vacation rentals.

These stays were also longer; while travelers normally stay for two nights for a desert summer getaway, this year saw more frequent stays of four days or longer, Hoban said.

“We got this very not normal crowd coming into the city to rent vacation rentals who just didn’t want to follow the rules,” Hoban said.

Palm Springs’ vacation rental ordinance has been held up as a model for strict enforcement. The city has a “three strikes” policy that can cause an owner to lose their ability to operate for two years. An individual can only have one vacation rental license, which is limited to 32 guest stays a year plus an extra four bookings during July, August and September. 

On Wednesday, Councilmember Lisa Middleton presented along with former code enforcement officer Boris Stark, who now works for Acme Vacation Rentals, at a California League of Cities meeting to talk about “best practices” for short-term rentals. 

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But some Palm Springs residents would rather see more restrictions, or see vacation rentals gone altogether. A lawsuit is still working its way through a California appellate court disputing

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What happens now that Battle Creek passed its hotel ordinance?

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It’s no secret that there are problems at some hotels and motels in Battle Creek. 

To improve conditions and reduce calls to law enforcement from these locations, the Battle Creek City Commission passed a new ordinance that will require property owners to have permits and comply with regulations limiting long-term stays. 

For many of those living in hotels and motels, that starts a countdown clock for finding new accommodations.  

The ordinance will limit stays to no more than 28 consecutive days, unless the room has a kitchenette. This restriction will go into effect Nov. 1, 2021. 

To avoid evictions that will exacerbate the housing crisis, the city, local social service agencies and landlords will have to work together to overcome housing barriers. 

“We really recognize that there is going to be some ongoing work related to access to housing that is going to need to happen in this community if we’re going to create any change,” said Marcie Gillette, community services director for the city of Battle Creek. “We really holistically have to work with our community partners to do this work.” 

Working with community partners

Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan, a social service organization in Battle Creek, initially had concerns about the ordinance, but with the grace period for long-term residents, leaders feel there is time to get people the help they need. 

“It would be quite a while before the actual enforcement took effect,” said Michelle Williamson, CEO of Community Action. “Also the city is going to be working with various community groups, too, as we identify clients that are in that situation.” 

Working with hotel owners to identify people who need help and connect them with service agencies is a priority, Williamson said, especially while there’s money available from the federal government and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority due to COVID-19.

Educating landlords on what assistance is available for clients and exploring affordable housing projects will also be essential, Williamson said. 

“There just needs to be a multi-prong approach because I think there’s a lot of different things that need to happen in order for there to be better solutions for the clients that are utilizing housing in this way,” Williamson said. “There is a lot of work to be done, but there’s a lot of people that care very much about having these situations move forward.” 

It’s unclear how many people currently use a hotel as their primary residence, according to Gillette, and the city is reaching out to owners for information on how many people stay at their properties long term. Gathering information will help officials understand the scope of the problem. 

When the ordinance was put up for a vote during City Commission’s Oct. 6 meeting, several commissioners expressed concern that these steps had not already been taken, but Gillette said efforts are now in progress with the help of community agencies. 

As part of a community collaboration group, the SHARE Center has offered to do door-to-door outreach with hotel

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