Updated March 13, 2018
In addition to managing our own Palm Springs vacation rental, Elrod Villa, I've been trying to help other Palm Springs short-term rental operators and owners, inspired in part by the advent of the updated vacation rental ordinance here (Ordinance 1918).
The following is a list of resources that may be of particular interest to owners of Palm Springs vacation rental owners and managers.
A citizens initiative ballot measure—now known as Palm Springs Measure C—which would effectively ban vacation rentals in Palm Springs, will come to a vote on June 5, 2018. If a majority of Palm Springs voters vote "yes" on this initiative, single-family homes in residential neighborhoods—which represent as much as 85% of the city's current permitted vacation rentals—would be prohibited from being rented for periods of less than 28 days. That is, they could no longer be vacation rentals.
In order to ensure defeat of this vacation rental ban, a broad coalition of supportive neighbors, local businesses, travel/tourism/hospitality industry stakeholders, Palm Springs vacation rental homeowners and other concerned groups has united to defeat this ballot initiative and ensure a decisive "NO" vote on the issue.
This coalition, We Love Palm Springs, includes the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, Main Street Palm Springs, Desert Valley Builders Association, Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors, VRON (Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs), and the Palm Springs Vacation Rental Tourism Association.
Other groups that have also announced their opposition to Measure C include the Mayor and City Council of Palm Springs, our local police and firefighters, The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and PS Resorts.
While virtually all of our local businesses and travel/tourism/hospitality industry in Palm Springs oppose Measure C and stand united against it, it takes a great deal of effort and funding to ensure a decisive NO vote. It is essential for vacation rental permit holders, and others who understand the dire consequences of such a ban, to contribute generously to this effort. Contributions to We Love Palm Springs can be made here:
Contributions in any amount are welcome and quickly raising money to fight this ban is essential to ensuring that vacation rentals remain legal in Palm Springs. Visit welovepalmsprings.org to learn more about Measure C and the extremely negative effects this move would have on the city that we love.
A lack of group organization and collective action by Palm Springs vacation rental owners has, in part, played a role in inaccurate (and even negative) perceptions around short-term rentals in Palm Springs and lead to the adoption of increasingly strict regulations for vacation rental operation. Formed in April 2017, Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of Palm Springs is "dedicated to preserving Palm Springs rich history of vacation rentals and home-sharing through education, awareness, and the promotion of responsible vacation rental ownership and management."
I believe it is essential that all owners of registered vacation rental homes (and those residents who also have homesharing type permits) in Palm Springs join and support this organization. Membership is open to any Palm Springs vacation rental permit holder and the founders and members of this group have been working very hard to educate vacation rental owners and the community at large, ensure the fair and sensible enforcement of Ordinance 1918 and defend against existential threats such as movements to ban or severely limit vacation rentals in Palm Springs. Learn more and join us at vronps.org.
There is also a "closed" (private) Facebook group for Palm Springs Vacation Rental Property Owners that was started by owners with similar goals and who are also members of VRON (though note that this Facebook group is not created or maintained by VRON—it's an independent effort). That Facebook group is new, but may become a helpful and lively resource over time. Message the organizers there for access to this group if you are interested.
There is, separately, an advocacy organization created by and for Palm Springs vacation rental property management firms. While the advocacy efforts of this group—the Palm Springs Vacation Rental Tourism Association (PSVRTA)—are positive and in some ways aligned with VRON's, the concerns of property management companies are uniquely different from those of property owners.
The City of Palm Springs operates a Vacation Rental Compliance Department (VRCD), which administers and enforces the various provisions of Ordinance 1918. The VRCD's website (psvacationrentalcompliance.com) is the official source for information related to the legal operation of vacation rentals (and homeshares) in Palm Springs—including application and renewal of permits, compliance requirements, and the latest interpretation of the requirements embodied in Ordinance 1918.
It's important to understand that, under the Palm Springs Vacation Rental Ordinance, it is your responsibility as an owner to ensure that your property is compliant with the ordinance. While property management firms may provide valuable assistance with some aspects of compliance, it's important for all short-term rental owners in Palm Springs to be familiar with the requirements. Violations of the ordinance are associated with and assessed against you and your property, not your guests or your management firm (if you use one).
Among the various resources on the VRCD site are:
As part of educational efforts around the vacation rental ban initiative, I've been writing a series of articles about Palm Springs vacation rentals, how they are regulated today, and the real impacts of short-term rentals in Palm Springs. You can find those articles on Medium, as with many of my other writings on this topic. Current articles in this series linked below:
Palm Springs resident and blogger Jonathan Freeman has written a series of articles about vacation rentals in Palm Springs, based on a lot of his own research. While he is not a vacation rental permit holder, he has investigated objections made by various opponents of short-term rentals and responded to each in a very thoughtful and fact-based way.
Topics of interest on his (very interesting) blog "Yes, Include Me!" include: Who are the owners of Palm Springs Vacation Rental homes, the impact of vacation rentals on housing prices, the impact of vacation rentals on neighborhoods, do VRs reduce community and connectedness, the rights and legalities associated with short-term rentals, and how vacation rental owners were mostly ignored in discussions around the new vacation rental ordinance.
He also posted a very informative interview with the founders of VRON. More recently, he wrote about how some misleading (incorrect) information inadvertently published (and promptly corrected) by the Vacation Rental Compliance Department was circulated by vacation rental opponents.
Speaking of vacation rental opponents, there are a couple of organizations in Palm Springs that oppose short-term rentals. I think it's important to understand their reasons for this opposition, their arguments, and their motivations. It's unclear at present how many Palm Springs residents might share their opinions and how many residents they truly represent.
The best known of these is "Protect Our Neighborhoods", an organization that "advocates for residents negatively impacted by short-term vacation rentals." Their opposition apparently stems from various real and potential disruptive aspects of short-term rentals. Though they seem to advocate for coexistence and proper oversight of short-term rentals, it's unclear exactly what they might interpret as an appropriate level of regulation around vacation rentals.
For example, the claim is made that they could at least tolerate Ordinance 1907, the original version of what morphed into 1918 by a few very small changes. However, they seem vehemently opposed to 1918. The organization is behind a recent lawsuit aiming to stop the issuance of vacation rental permits.
While this organization uses a variety of data to support its claims (and they examine much of the same source data that I do in my Palm Springs Hotline Map project), I find that much of it is analyzed, interpreted an presented incorrectly (and in some cases, this would seem to be intentional).
A related organization, PSN4N (Palm Springs Neighbors for Neighborhoods), exists to promote a ballot initiative that, if it came to ballot and passed, would ban the vast majority of vacation rentals in Palm Springs. The initiative itself would prohibit the short-term rental of single family residences in R-1 residential (and similar) zones. The ballot title and summary can be read here. See here for the full text of the proposed regulation.
PSN4N seems not to have gathered enough signatures to put their initiative on the November 2017 ballot, but continues signature gathering efforts, possibly in an attempt to force a (costly and unfortunate in my opinion) special election on the issue.
It's unclear to me how much these groups are inspired by, related to, or supported by groups that advocate for the business interests of various hotels (such as "Small Hotels of Palm Springs"). However, some small hotels and inns in Palm Springs have been vocal opponents of short-term rental activity in Palm Springs (essentially based on a perception that vacation rentals represent "unfair competition" with those businesses) and I note that the PSN4N petition is available for signatures at several small hotels in the city.
My ongoing Palm Springs Vacation Rental Hotline Map project visualizes and analyzes data from the VRCD's reports to help us better understand trends around complaints about Palm Springs vacation rentals. On that page, you'll find a lot of useful information and statistics about the real and imagined impacts of vacation rentals.
I also regularly write about a variety of vacation rental issues (not all of them about policy or Palm Springs, specifically!) and you can find those articles here and on Medium (follow me there @ElrodVilla no be notified about new articles as they appear). Recent articles of interest cover topics including:
I also write occasional pieces for VRON-PS, which are available only to members (so that's another excellent, IMHO, reason to join VRON).