PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Finding a balance between tourists and locals - that's the challenge for the city of Palm Springs. The vacation rental business continues to skyrocket, but locals want to know at what cost. Concerns over noise, parking and standard of living are at the center of the ongoing debate. The city's already added regulations, but some say it's not enough, while others say it's too much. "There are a lot of folks who want a different kind of experience," said James Canfield, the executive director of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism. "They don't just want a hotel room or even a hotel suite."
The bureau of tourism devotes an entire section of its website to rental properties. And the city's reaping the benefit, an expected $4 million in transient occupancy tax (TOT) this year. "We know it's an important part of our tourist economy but we also know people want to enjoy their neighborhood surroundings," said Palm Springs city manager David Ready.
Some neighborhoods, like Deep Well Estates in South Palm Springs, say vacation rentals make it impossible to do so. Residents put up signs letting renters know exactly how they feel. In response, the city council put in new restrictions, including an age minimum of 25 and requiring two members of the ownership to be on call on the weekend. The city also created a new hotline for complaints, putting the onus on property owners, instead of the police department. To tackle the noise issue, the city now bans any amplified music from a rental's property line. Still, some say it's not enough. "We would like to see the requirement for outdoor speakers in vacation rental properties to be disconnected," said Tom Stansbury, a member of "Protect Our Neighborhood."
Others like Dre Naylor say the new restrictions go too far, and are tough to enforce. She lives next to several rental properties and fear the new rules could deter valuable tourist dollars from coming into the city. "Less is more," said Naylor. "I think we should just let people do what they are coming here to do and say thank you for their patronage."
While the city council continues to hear both arguments, it's clear those two sides may not find a middle ground. "Some people would say there's a balance now, we think we're not even close to the center line," said Stansbury.
Stansbury also said the "Protect Our Neighborhood" group is scheduled to meet with members of the city in early September. They will present their concerns and look for other ways to find a balance.