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

The Board of Supervisors is slated Tuesday to make 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.

The Transportation & Land Management Agency is seeking an 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 is set to 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 Tuesday agenda.

The Vacation Rental Compliance agreement may be extended beyond June 30.

Under the $346,240 contract with Deckard, 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 and that complaints against rental providers are remedied.

In January 2016, the board approved Ordinance No. 927, 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.

Modifications to Ordinance No. 927 are under consideration by the county Planning Commission.

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.

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 that 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.

The first Planning Commission hearing on the proposals is tentatively set for April 20. Protests have already been lodged over some of the proposed regulations.

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