The Board of Supervisors signed off on a $346,240 contract Tuesday with a real estate data processing firm to monitor and manage the registration of short-term rental providers throughout unincorporated areas of Riverside County in an ongoing effort to improve regulation of the fast-growing industry.

“The industry is exploding because of the internet,” board Chairman Jeff Hewitt said ahead of the 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Manuel Perez absent. “It’s important for us to get this technological element into it.”

The county Transportation & Land Management Agency sought the three-year agreement with San Diego-based Deckard Technologies Inc. as part TLMA’s modification of Ordinance No. 927, approved in January 2016, which established standards by which short-term rental property owners and agents are supposed to abide.

Short-term rentals are defined as units where individuals are paying for overnight stays that last 30 days or less.

The ordinance requires landlords to register their properties with the county and specifies that rentals be subject to “quiet time” enforcement, with no noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. It further prohibits parking that creates street hazards and requires owners to pay a 10% transient occupancy tax, similar to what hotels and motels owe the county for doing business.

Similar ordinances are on the books in Cathedral City, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.

County Planning Director John Hildebrand said there are about 750 permitted short-term rental businesses in unincorporated communities countywide, but he estimated that the actual number in operation — without registration — is possibly triple “what we have on file.”

“We need to identify them and bring them into compliance,” Hildebrand told the board, eliciting a small round of applause from the audience.

“We get a significant number of complaints,” Supervisor Chuck Washington said. “We have deputies going out for noise complaints on nights and weekends. We need a robust management system, and that’s what we’re working on today.”

Washington and Supervisor Kevin Jeffries joined in 2020 to propose enhancements to Ordnance No. 927. Hildebrand said the contract with Deckard Technologies is one of the modifications, and others will be submitted to the board in proposed amendments to the ordinance in a few weeks.

Several public hearings will be held to solicit input from landlords and others before the amended ordinance is slated for final consideration.

In 2020, Jeffries, who had opposed short-term rental regulations in 2016, said he was appalled by the way “communities are being overwhelmed.”

“You have 200 to 300 people showing up for parties and other events,” he said. “Houses are being used for 20, 30, 40 occupants spending the night. Buses are coming and going from communities where there’s one paved road. We need to start diving further and seeing where we can make changes to protect property rights on both sides of the fence.”

Deckard Technologies, which was selected from among three companies that bid on the management contract, will be responsible for creating an online registration portal for prospective short-term rental providers, producing and distributing packages on rules and regulations, and using county-authorized compliance measures to ensure collection of transient occupancy taxes and that complaints against rental providers are remedied.

The county will have the option of renewing the contract annually after the original three-year compact ends.

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