The Board of Supervisors Tuesday made several final adjustments in anticipation of establishing new regulations for short-term rental properties in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, setting the stage for formal adoption of the regulatory apparatus on Oct. 18.
The hearing Tuesday was intended to be the last one for consideration of the overhauled Short-Term Rental Ordinance, No. 927, following two prior half-day public hearings, during which the measure was debated and revised.
Several speakers requested minor modifications to the ordinance, to which the board acceded, requiring the adoption date to be deferred two weeks, in order to give staff time to rewrite provisions.
The modifications are connected to occupancy limitations. Under the revised “tier” system, a maximum of 10 people would be permitted to stay in a short-term rental residence that occupies less than an acre. For residences on lots of one to two acres, up to 16 guests would be permitted, and acreage above that amount would mean up to 20 people could stay in a short-term rental in a given period.
Higher tiers and larger spaces, such as ranch-style properties, would enable short-term rental operators to accommodate even larger groups, pending approval by the county Department of Planning.
The Transportation & Land Management Agency had previously inserted a regulation that caused numerous property owners concern, leaving open the possibility that residences in higher tiers might have to install fire sprinkler systems costing between $30,000 and $100,000 in order to receive a short-term rental permit.
During the Sept. 13 hearing, Supervisors Kevin Jeffries and Karen Spiegel objected.
“We’re not going to mandate fire sprinklers,” Jeffries said. “That’s a recommendation for whoever can afford it because that would involve a major remodel to a home.”
Sprinklers are only recommended under the proposed regulatory regime.
The board agreed to keep a provision for outdoor noise monitors, which would have to be installed 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.
Rental 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 on the exterior of a property with the contact information for operators in case of problems.
The revised ordinance would mandate that a “responsible operator” be clearly designated before a short-term rental certificate is issued by the Department of Planning. 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.
Short-term rental certificates, if approved, would be good for a year. Units defined as short-term rentals would provide temporary living space for a maximum of 30 days, but not less than two days and one night, according to the proposed revisions. The properties would be subject to a 10% transient occupancy tax, much the same as hotels and motels.
The application fee to establish a short-term venue would be $740, and annual renewals would run $540.
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 county has already established a “special enforcement team” of code enforcement officers dedicated to policing “party house” complaints on weekends and during nighttime hours.
Noise, health and other violations could result in citations of between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the circumstances.
In February, the board 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 criteria by which short-term rental property owners and agents are supposed to abide.
It was in direct response to “adverse impacts to surrounding neighbors and properties (from) unpermitted large-scale events, excessive noise, disorderly conduct, traffic congestion, illegal vehicle parking and accumulation of refuse.”
Officials said there are roughly 1,100 registered short-term rental businesses in unincorporated communities, but they believe the unregistered number could be three times that amount.