Judge Rules Against Request to Halt Palm Springs Vacation Rental Certificate Issuances

News Staff

Palm Springs, CA

A judge refused Monday to bar the city of Palm Springs from issuing any new vacation rental certificates to prospective short-term rental owners.

The motion was brought by a neighborhood group against the city of Palm Springs and the Palm Springs City Council. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Craig G. Riemer denied Protect Our Neighborhoods’ request for a temporary restraining order that would have directed the city to halt the issuance of any new vacation rental certificates until the city conducts an environmental review into the effects of short-term rentals or establishes new zoning regulations to treat vacation rentals like commercial businesses.

“We never thought that an injunction was appropriate in this matter to begin with,” said  James Eggart, an attorney for the city. “We understand that Protect Our Neighborhoods disagrees with the decisions that the city council has made, but we don’t feel that the court is the proper venue to challenge that.”

City officials, rental owners and residents have butted heads over how best to deal with the explosion of short-term rental properties, which have more than doubled since 2009, according to the city.

Officials said the proliferation of vacation rentals in the city has sapped housing availability for low-income residents and led to an increase in noise violations, disorderly conduct, traffic congestion, vandalism and illegal parking.

Several ordinance proposals have been introduced since late last year, including one blocked by a voters’ referendum in February, led by pro-rental group Citizens for a Better Palm Springs.

The city council in March finally pushed through an ordinance, which limits property owners to renting out their homes 32 times a year, reduces the issuance of new vacation rental permits to one per owner, and requires guests to meet with owners for a thorough run-thru of the city’s rental regulations. The new ordinance went into effect April 16.

Protect Our Neighborhoods alleges in its court papers that the city “has never undertaken any adequate environmental review of vacation rentals,” and is thus in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The group contended that the city should not be allowed to issue vacation rental certificates without requiring that rental owners obtain a Land Use Permit or Conditional Use Permit first, as is required for commercial businesses.

“Such hastily obtained Vacation Rental Certificates may establish permanent vacation rentals without any limit on the number of vacation rentals in a neighborhood or regard for inconsistency with or the impact on residential neighborhoods,” the group’s suit alleges.

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