Palm Springs has pioneered the development of a nationwide paradigm for community-based vacation rental management. It hasn’t always been simple, but the city, our neighbors, and vacation rental owners have worked together to create the success we have today.
Why is it considered a success? Let’s set the scene first. In 2017, the city amended its vacation rental code and established a specialized staff to address all vacation rental issues. This comprises both hotline personnel and enforcement officers, who are City employees who are well-versed in the rules. This city department is entirely funded by vacation rental permit fees, with no taxpayer funds used.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. A hotline call requiring an officer on the scene takes an average of 19 minutes to respond to. That was lightning fast! Furthermore, the rule mandates that each vacation rental owner or manager be available locally within 30 minutes of being alerted of an incident, or face being ticketed – three strikes (citations) in a 12-month period, and you’re out of business for two years in Palm Springs.
But, perhaps most importantly, both the number of calls to the City and the number of citations issued are decreasing. The City has experienced a 23 percent decrease in noise-related citations over the last 18 months, averaging around three per month, according to the data. In fact, given the large number of guests staying, problems are rare. Only 0.003 percent of visitor stays in 2021 resulted in a noise violation, based on the number of vacation rental stays vs the number of noise citations. If this appears to be a small number, it is. The city and the Office of Special Program Compliance deserve credit for having a strict enforcement system in place, and the vast majority of vacation rental owners and tourists deserve credit for following the regulations.
The most essential thing we can do as a city moving forward is to maintain enforcement as a top priority. We know from the statistics that the majority of guests are courteous and come to enjoy the same peace and calm that each of us found in Palm Springs. And that help doesn’t only come in the form of tourism dollars: the more than $15 million in Transient Occupancy Tax money paid into the city’s General budget helps keep Palm Springs safer. This money supports health, safety, and a variety of other important community services. It’s all part of the ecosystem that ensures this city remains a desirable location to live and visit.
So we’re on the right route, and there’s enough to be happy about. The COVID pandemic could have wreaked havoc on Palm Springs’ economy, yet a stroll around our downtown and neighborhood retail malls reveals that the shops and restaurants we love are still standing strong. We are a resilient community that thrives on our welcoming diversity, thriving tourism, and the natural beauty that inspired the City’s name. These are the pillars of our power that make Palm Springs everything we love it to be – now and in the future.