Short-term rentals within Riverside County are becoming more popular and now are within the purview of the Board of Supervisors. The subject was on the agenda of the board’s Nov. 17 meeting because supervisors John Benoit (4th District) and Chuck Washington (3rd District) proposed an ordinance (927) to regulate this burgeoning industry.

While the Coachella Valley is the primary locus of concern, Benoit feels the desert cities already regulate this industry to the disadvantage of neighborhoods in the adjoining unincorporated areas. Idyllwild and the wine country were identified as other areas where these rentals occur.

On a 4-1 vote, the board agreed to redraft the ordinance and bring it back in the future. Benoit’s intention is to regulate the industry and not ban it.

Benoit introduced the proposal and made clear it was subject to revision after his colleagues had time to review it and discuss with their constituents. He stressed it would not be intrusive and would be easy to comply with.

Washington had already been involved but expressed some concerns about various aspects of the proposal, which Benoit’s staff has been working on for nearly a year.

“It is important to have some regulation,” said Supervisor John Tavaglione (2nd District). “But it is hard to compare large and small properties. Might be worthwhile to engage a small group of realtors.”

The proposal would apply to single-family detached or multiple-family attached dwelling units, including apartments and condominiums. It would not apply to hotels, motels, lodging houses or inns.

The growth of this short-term rental practice throughout the county has created many complaints and objections, according to the proposal. Benoit said one of its goals was to create some balance for neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas compared to nearby communities within cities such as Palm Desert and Cathedral City, which regulate this industry now.

However, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries (1st District) opposed pursuing the idea. He argued that the marketplace was able to make distinctions between hotels and inns, and rentals in private homes in residential neighborhoods.

“We don’t need to level the playing field because these are market-driven issues,” he said.

While the proposed ordinance will be revised, the initial draft included some of these restrictions:

  • Maximum overnight guests limited to two persons per bedroom, excluding children under age 3, and a maximum of eight bedrooms.
  • Quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • All parking must be on site. Street parking for these rentals will be prohibited.
  • Trash and refuse must be stored outside of public view.
  • An owner or designee must be available 24 hours and able to respond to complaints with an hour.
  • All properties within 100 feet must be notified of the owner’s intent to list the property as a short-term rental.

Staff also made it clear that these properties are still subject to other county regulations and ordinances, such as fire and transient occupancy taxes.

Explaining the proposal to the Board, Joseph Pradetto, legislative assistant on Benoit’s staff, said many issues have arisen during the drafting of the proposed ordinance over the past year. These include trash, noise, disorderly conduct, zoning and more.

“The others issues don’t matter as long as their sleep is not disturbed and they don’t wake up to trash,” Pradetto said.

And Benoit added, “Noise is the number one concern and this doesn’t change the noise ordinance. It makes people aware of it.”

One of the requirements would be a $250 initial county fee for rental property and a $100 annual renewal fee. County staff compared the regulations being developed in other county cities and Southern California.