PALM SPRINGS, Calif - People who own vacation rental properties in Palm Springs will be facing new regulations after a vote Wednesday night by the city council.
Mayor Robert Moon, council members Geoff Kors and J.R. Roberts voted for the regulations, council member Ginny Foat voted no and council member Chris Mills abstained.
More than 50 people made public comments before the vote. Some for and some against the new regulations.
"Vacation rentals became our problem and we are being asked to clean up and enforce and industry because they cannot do it themselves. That's why we are here tonight," said Roberts.
"We listened at every meeting and we made changes on it. We got a lot of new input and there was some really constructive input in the 1,000 emails that let us make changes and that is a good process. That's the process we should have and the process we asked for," said Kors who with Roberts headed the subcommittee to come up with the new regulations.
The new ordinance includes capping the amount of times a property can be rented in a year to 32 contract bookings, with no limit for how long that booking can be. Family members would be excluded from this restriction.
There could also be a hike in rental permit fees from $234 a year to $900 to cover the cost of heightened levels of enforcement.
There are steeper penalties for people caught not following the rules.
Also a homeowner or a business can only have one permitted vacation rental property in the city. People and couples that have two properties can be grandfathered in, but only for two properties.
Some people who own vacation rental properties said these new regulations will force them to sell their homes.
"I feel like I have had the rug ripped out from under me, from the city. We pay our taxes monthly, we have bought our homes with the intention of knowing that this is how the rules are, and it just feels very disrespectful," said Billy Dortch, who owns three vacation rental properties with his partner.
Opponents of vacation rental properties consider this vote to be a major victory.
“As far as we are concerned this is a great first step but it is not the be all and the end all but we know going in this was not going to be a perfect solution for everybody but we think it is a significant improvement,” said Mike Ziskind, chairman of Protect Our Neighborhoods Palm Springs.
Many of the people taking to the podium to speak on behalf of the vacation rental industry complained the city never enforced the rules of the original ordinance and the new rules will force property owners to sell their homes and could create an underground group of people offering vacation rental homes illegally.