A set of proposed requirements for short-term rental properties in unincorporated areas of Riverside County is now available for public scrutiny and input, providing time for parties to comment on the measures ahead of the first Planning Commission hearing.
“While short-term rentals have been a staple in the county, and they provide a benefit to the county by expanding the number and type of lodging facilities, the exponential increase continues to cause adverse impacts that have the potential to endanger the health and safety of residents and guests, and the very environment and resources that attract visitors to the county,” according to a Department of Planning statement.
“Adverse impacts to surrounding neighbors and properties include unpermitted large-scale events, excessive noise, disorderly conduct, traffic congestion, illegal vehicle parking and accumulation of refuse.”
A set of proposed amendments to the county’s existing Short-Term Rental Ordinance, No. 927, was published Tuesday, and all interested parties have an opportunity to comment on the draft ordinance until the initial Planning Commission hearing, scheduled for April 20.
The revised ordinance would mandate that a “responsible operator” be clearly designated before a short-term rental certificate is issued by the department. The operator could be the owner of a property, or someone selected by the owner to act as his or her representative.
Rentals would also need to have a “responsible person” on site during the time the property is leased, and that individual could be one of the guests.
Short-term rental certificates would be good for a maximum of 30 days, but not fewer than three, according to the proposed revisions. The properties would be subject to a 10% transient occupancy tax, much the same as hotels and motels.
However, the Short-Term Rental Ordinance would not include hotels, motels, dormitories, hostels, recreational vehicles, transitional housing facilities, camp sites and a number of other living spaces. They may, however, include single- or multi-family houses, condominiums and lots with multiple cabins.
The proposed regulations would require the responsible operator to clearly post sanitation, noise and occupancy requirements as part of the short-term rental permit, which would be valid for a year. Operators would also have to notify neighbors within 300 feet that a property will be utilized for rotating rentals, and signage would have to be posted in plain view on the exterior of a property with the contact information for operators in case of problems.
The revised ordinance would mandate that an operator respond within 60 minutes to complaints or emergencies; otherwise, he or she might be subject to civil penalties, and the short-term rental certificate could be revoked.
Noise monitors would be required to be installed at each property to ensure disturbances are minimized. The county’s “quiet time” rules, specifying no loud noises between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., would additionally need to be observed.
“Light trespass” regulations would further be put in place to prevent over-illumination that disturbs neighboring properties.
The proposed occupancy rules state that two persons for every one off-street parking space would be allowed to stay in a short-term rental, or alternately two persons per each bedroom in a dwelling, as well as one person per unit — whichever is least.
Code enforcement officers would be permitted to conduct an initial inspection of a short-term rental as part of the certificate issuance to ensure there are no health and safety violations, as well as conduct follow-up inspections as needed, according to the proposal.
Last month, the Board of Supervisors approved a $346,240 contract with San Diego-based Deckard Technologies Inc. to manage the registration of short-term rentals, keep track of tax payments and handle the production and distribution of brochures for operators.
Ordinance No. 927 was approved in January 2016, establishing basic standards by which short-term rental property owners and agents are supposed to abide. Similar ordinances are on the books in Cathedral City, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.
County Planning Director John Hildebrand said last month that 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.”
In 2020, Supervisor Kevin 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. “We need to start diving further and seeing where we can make changes to protect property rights on both sides of the fence.”
Details on the proposed regulations and where to submit comments can be found at planning.rctlma.org/Advance-Planning/348UPD.