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City of Palm Springs pushes back on vacation rental referendum

Roughly 3,000 signatures could halt ordinance

City of Palm Springs pushes back on...

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The Palm Springs City Council Subcommittee on vacation rentals held a news conference Wednesday morning.

The council announced it's requesting the city attorney to draft a public safety ballot measure which they will then ask the city council to approve for the ballot at the same time as a potential referendum that is now circulating on the new ordinance.

Officials said the proposed safety initiative would require short term vacation rentals to comply with similar health, safety, accessibility, building, and insurance requirements that small motels and hotels are required to follow in the event the new ordinance is overturned.

"If this referendum qualifies, it will gut the entire ordinance including rules relating to enforcement, building and safety, auditing to prevent ongoing tax evasion, closing down of illegal vacation rentals, suspending homes with repeat violations, and much more," said Councilmember Geoff Kors. "This referendum will allow corporations to continue to buy dozens, if not hundreds, of homes in our neighborhoods and convert them to full-time tourist lodging, forever changing our neighborhoods from being primarily for our residents to primarily for tourists. The proposed public safety measure will ensure that we have consistent safety and accessibility rules for all small tourist lodging which is necessary if the ordinance is overturned and homes can be utilized as full-time motels without any resident living in the home."

The Subcommittee on vacation rentals is comprised of Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts, joined by Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes and Fire Chief Kevin Nalder. 

J.R. Roberts said, "Unlike those putting forth the referendum, we only have one motivation - to do what is in the best interest of our city and residents. Our city government's primary responsibility is our residents and to ensure public safety. Those pushing the referendum are backed by an out-of-the-area international corporation worth billions of dollars. While we cannot compete with their money, we will do whatever is necessary to educate the public about the ordinance and its important public safety elements."

Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes also weighed in on the initiative.

"I am in full support of the council's recently passed ordinance as it allows for a team approach in addressing vacation rental compliance as well as those illegally operating," said Chief Reyes. "The recently passed ordinance frees up my officers to address crime - rather than continue to respond to thousands of calls dealing with guests at vacation rentals -- and that is always top priority."

"The Palm Springs Fire Department is committed to protecting property and saving lives from the devastating effects of fire. Life safety code enforcement annual inspections reduce the risks of fires and a potential tragedy occurring," said Chief Kevin Nalder. "An ordinance providing equitable life safety code enforcement for the lodging industry supports the City's commitment to Palm Springs residents, visitors and businesses to protect property and save lives."

KESQ and CBS Local 2 will continue to bring you updates on the city's vacation rental ordinance.


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