By JP Crumrine


            On Wednesday, May 18, the Riverside County Planning Commission will again discuss major changes to Ordinance 927, “Regulating Short Term Rentals” (STRs). 

            The commission reviewed changes to the ordinance at its April 20 meeting, and asked its staff to make changes and bring the new revision to the commission for the May 18 meeting.

            However, setting a cap or limitations on the number of STRs in an area, which was an important recommendation from many Idyllwild residents with several commissioners agreeing, may be deferred into the future.

            In its report to the commission, planning staff wrote that there were many issues affecting an adequate definition and implementation of a cap. Consequently, Planning Director John Hildebrand recommended more time to study and analyze this issue.

            More time for review would encompass “… ongoing discussions/workshops to further discuss in detail how to appropriately establish limitations. As a starting point, staff will bring back a proposed framework and discuss at an upcoming planning commission as a workshop item,” Hildebrand said, explaining what more would be done to resolve the “cap” question.

            Among the issues affecting caps staff believes need further review and discussion are which areas of the county should have limits and how to draw a boundary for that area; what are the criteria for a limit, such as population, dwelling units or percentages; what is the data source; and how to manage the STR certificate process when an application falls within a designated area.

            In April, Hildebrand expressed unease with having “different rules for different areas of the county.”

            But several commissioners felt the issue should be addressed, although it may take more time. Commissioner Carl Bruce Shaffer (1st District) replied in response to Hildebrand, “I understand it’s complex and that’s the struggle. But at some point, we’ll have to look at mountain community versus desert communities versus Wine Country. If it is too difficult at this point, I’m willing to go with the consensus, knowing we’ll be back hear having this discussion in the future.”

            On Wednesday, the commission will decide whether to defer this issue for more study, adopt some language defining caps or drop the pursuit of it.

            The latest version of draft Ordinance 927 does include some changes resulting from the public comments before and after the April 20 commission meeting.

            The minimum length of an STR stay will be one night and two days as originally specified in the 2016 adopted ordinance. The previous draft set a minimum stay at two nights and three days.

            The maximum occupancy remains 10 people unless an application for up to 16 is approved. However, language was added that the maximum occupancy of an STR on a parcel of at least five acres will be 16 guests, subject to state building codes.

            Properties that have been subdivided pursuant to California’s Senate Bill 9 (California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency [HOME] Act) will be restricted from providing STRs.

            The new version of the 927 draft also addresses parking spaces, location of noise monitors and signage.

            The definition of “adequate parking” is one on-site parking space for every four occupants. Added parking must be “within an approved driveway, garage, and/or carport area.”

            Noise monitors must be placed both within the STR and outside the house.

            Outside signage, which must be visible from the street, has to have the following information: the STR certificate number, the name and phone number of the responsible operator, the maximum number of occupants and Code Enforcement’s call center phone number.

            This now excludes phone numbers for the Riverside County Sheriff, local fire department and emergency medical services.

            The written notification of obtaining an STR certificate is required to be given to all property owners within 300 feet of the STR property line. This is modified to specify that at least 20 surrounding properties are notified.

            And the final change is that the inclusion of the “requirements for eligibility of an STR to obtain certification and maintain certification through the annual renewal process” is now provided in section 7.