INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - The city of Indian Wells has issued an emergency ordinance to place a moratorium on short-term rentals in the city. The city council voted 4-0 during a special session on Monday to stop rentals shorter than 30 days, unless already booked. The decision came after several residents spoke on the issue. The ordinance comes in response to what some call a growing problem in the resort community. The council heard complaints from people who say large groups of young people rent homes on the weekend, line residential streets with cars, then throw huge parties.
In addition to the moratorium, the council voted to increase fines for disturbance. The first offense is now $2,000, second is $3,000 and $5,000 for the third. Councilwoman Mary Roche says it's time to protect the reasons many people move to Indian Wells. "Our main priority is to our residents and quality of life, we are a residential community," said Roche.
Some in the community even say these "party homes" are hurting the value of their properties. Many complaints coming from neighbors around a rental on the 75-000 block of Mary Lane. "They turn up the music on their boom boom boxes to a high degree and man they're raising the roof around here," said Richard Pershing who lives in the neighborhood. "You can't sleep or do anything."
Not everyone spoke in support of the city. A few who rent their homes out, said they should not be punished for a few who do not follow policies. The house on Mary Lane is owned by Luxe Vacation Homes. The group's lawyer Rob Bernheimer came to the defense of the short-term rental business at the meeting. "Short term rentals in the Coachella Valley create $272 million dollars in economic impact, over 2500 local jobs, 265,000 room nights," said Bernheimer.
He also sent us this statement on behalf of his client:
"LUXE does not oppose Indian Wells taking a step back, gathering all the facts and creating new ordinances to appropriately deal with short term rentals. Other cities have had to deal with this. In particular, the City of Palm Desert in 2007 originally banned rentals of less than 30 days. They realized it didn't work and in 2012 changed their ordinances to allow short term rentals, but have strict regulations and fines for non-compliance. Importantly, cities like Palm Desert contact the renting agency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and require a response within 60 minutes if there is a problem at a rental. Indian Wells, on the other hand, has no process or staffing over the weekend or at night – so if a problem occurs on a Friday or Saturday night, the renting agency is not contacted until Monday, which is too late. We sympathize with neighbors who have endured problem rentals and welcome to the opportunity to work with the City on a better system for short term rentals."
While the council mulls a permanent ordinance, the focus remains on the standard of living their residents want. "We want something that is fair but maintains what we have prided ourselves in Indian Wells is being this prestigious neighborhood," said Roche.