Palm Springs
Palm Springs - Photo courtesy of Cody Board on Unsplash

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a final adjustment to the contract with the firm responsible for overseeing short-term rental properties in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, nearly doubling the amount of compensation to the company.

In a 5-0 vote, the board signed off on the Transportation & Land Management Agency’s amendment to the compact with Palm Desert-based Vacation Rental Compliance LLC, raising its annual payment from $95,000 to $175,000.

The county’s six-year contract with the company will expire June 30. A replacement contract was approved Feb. 1 with San Diego-based Deckard Technologies Inc. However, Deckard is still in the process of readying its platform to take over supervision of short-term rentals countywide.

In the meantime, Vacation Rental Compliance is contending with a “significant increase in the number of short-term rental units operating throughout the unincorporated communities,” requiring additional funds, according to documents posted to the board’s agenda.

A TLMA spokesman told the board Tuesday that Deckard will be prepared to meet all its contract obligations in June.

Under the $346,240 agreement, the firm will be responsible for creating an online registration portal for prospective short-term rental providers, producing and distributing packages on rules and regulations, using county-authorized compliance measures to ensure collection of transient occupancy taxes, fees and that complaints against rental providers are remedied.

In January 2016, the board approved Ordinance No. 927, which set 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. According to TLMA, there are now 925 registered short-term rental properties in unincorporated areas, but officials believe triple that number are operating without registration.

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.

Modifications to Ordinance No. 927 are under consideration by the county Planning Commission, which has confirmed that it will hold its initial hearing regarding the proposals on April 20 at the County Administrative Center.

The proposed regulations would require the operator of a short-term rental 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.

Owners have already complained to the board that the proposals significantly invade their privacy and create other foreseeable 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.

The proposed occupancy rules state two people for every one off-street parking space would be allowed to stay in a short-term rental, or alternately two people per each bedroom in a dwelling, as well as one person per unit — whichever is least.

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