Regulating how vacation rental properties are used may be necessary to preserve the “ambiance and tranquility” of some unincorporated communities, Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster said today.
After reviewing a county study on the potential benefits of an ordinance geared to rental homes, Buster said it was time to consider drafting a measure that ”strikes the proper balance” between community standards and individual enjoyment of property.
“In the old days, the county didn’t have the population that it does today,” the supervisor said. ”There’s more consciousness now that neighbors have invested a lot and expect a certain ambiance and tranquility.”
Last month, in response to complaints from residents in his district, Buster requested that the Office of County Counsel scrutinize regulations on rental properties throughout the state for comparative purposes.
According to the study, Riverside County has virtually nothing on its books specifically targeting vacation homes.
“A regulatory program for vacation home rentals would provide a procedure to preserve tourist opportunities while also protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare,” county staff wrote.
“Additionally, short term vacation home rentals … have the potential to generate transient occupancy taxes for the county.”
The study noted a growing use of short-term rentals in the areas of De Luz and La Cresta, both just outside of Temecula, as well as in the desert.
At a May 8 board meeting, proponents of a vacation home ordinance said their quality of life had been impacted by large-scale parties in nearby houses leased out for raves or similar events.
“There are examples of disruptions in the wine country from people who don’t follow the rules,” said Supervisor Jeff Stone. ”You’re talking about large gatherings of people who are drinking and partying in the middle of the night.”
Several owners of vacation properties appeared before the board to express their concerns about being regulated.
“The thing that has us concerned is that some kind of rules will be put in place that will not really be appropriate for our area,” La Cresta property owner Laura Comers told the board. ”We want to make sure that we have a say … and that we’re not just arbitrarily dictated to.”
She said her five-acre rental property has never been leased out to “anyone disrespectful” and that she imposes her own rules, including no noise after 10 p.m. and no parking in the street.
“I think the rules we have in place now are adequate,” said Temecula-area property owner Christina Greena. “I feel there are always unintended consequences when you add more regulations … Fewer regulations and more common sense is what we need.”
Drawing on ordinances in Palm Springs, Laguna Beach and San Bernardino and Sonoma counties, the county study suggested the following provisions for a future county ordinance targeting vacation rentals:
- Require a property owner leasing a home for vacation or short-term uses to provide neighbors with contact information so that the owner can be immediately reached if a problem arises.
- Define what constitutes a vacation home rental and mandate that any property occupied for 30 days or less be subject to a transit occupancy tax.
- Designate where vacation rentals will be allowed.
- Like Palm Springs, consider a two-person-per-bedroom cap per property, exempting children under 3 years old.
- Require a “minor event permit” when properties will be temporarily occupied by a large number of people.
Initiating an ordinance will require the assistance of a number of county agencies, including the Fire Department and Department of Code Enforcement, with labor and other costs totaling around $65,000, according to the study.
Buster said his staff and representatives from Stone’s office would collaborate on outlining a proposed ordinance. He said concerned property owners’ input would be welcome.
A progress report will be made in 60 days, according to the supervisor.