I have two small questions about the recent short-term rentals (STR) article. The first has to do with “All property owners who wish to offer their homes or other facility as an STR must obtain an STR certificate from the county.”
As Woody Henderson’s research shows, Idyllwild already has half of all the STRs in unincorporated Riverside County and double the number of STRs as our surrounding communities. Our small town does not have half the population or homes of unincorporated Riverside County nor do we have half the land of unincorporated Riverside County.
Setting a cap on STRs also is an ongoing negotiation: 10% seems right to me. So why would even more STR permits even be offered in Idyllwild at this time?
My second small question is about STRs and noise. Visitors think they are “out in the wilderness,” but Idyllwild is a populated community. The article talks about “noise during quiet hours.” I have no idea what “quiet hours” even means.
When I first came to Idyllwild in 1978, my favorite thing was the peace and quiet — hearing the birds, the crickets, the wind through the forest. When my wife Iris and I were finally able to leave “the big city” and move to our home in Idyllwild, we truly loved the quiet.
In the town center, there is music which is totally “right” in the town center. Now we have a local STR and the renters leave their dogs indoors in a strange house or outdoors in a strange yard. So, of course, they bark continuously.
If STR renters want to bring pets, they should be required to bring their dogs with them when they leave the rental, whatever “quiet hours” means. And boom boxes, radios, etc. should not be played outdoors at all and if played indoors, they should not disturb the neighbors, whatever “quiet hours” means. In other words, music should be played at a volume that cannot be heard outside the rental.
I personally do not want to have to try to figure out how to contact the STR owner/manager; call and most likely get a voice mail and leave a complaint that will probably go unanswered. I just want to continue our peace and quiet in Idyllwild.
The STR owners/managers are responsible for the parking, trash, snow, outdoor cooking and fire danger, noise and all other problems their STR investments create. The neighbors who live near the STRs should not have to spend their time policing these investments.
The STR owners/managers should have to provide 24/7 patrolling and checking on every single STR, so the neighbors do not have to waste their time with complaining about these businesses in their (once residential) neighborhood. Rivco has it set up now so that the neighbors are responsible for reporting problems and have to waste their time trying to get through to “somebody” and deal with trying to have the owner/manager “punished.”
Ordinance 927.1 disappointment
It was with great disappointment that I read the article in last week’s TC regarding “Supervisors expected to approve Ordinance 927.1 July 26.” Around June 5, I sent a letter to each one of the members of the Planning Commission about the fire issues that need to be considered for Idyllwild and the surrounding areas, and why we need a cap on the number of STRs in order to protect residents and visitors. I invited them all to come up here and observe how all streets on the Hill, including Pine Cove and Fern Valley, end up on Highway 243. I never heard one word from any of them.
All roads up here funnel out to 243, a two-lane, very winding road. If a fire blocked the 243 beyond Pine Cove, all areas must exit the Hill on this one road, until it ends in Mountain Center, and splits off at Highway 74, descending either to Hemet or to the desert.
If a fire should block 243 toward Mountain Center, all people trying to evacuate the area would have to go up through Pine Cove, where 243 is also two lanes and winding all the way down to Banning.
On a normal busy weekend, it would be difficult for residents and visitors to evacuate safely, even if 243 is open in both directions. So, imagine a few hundred STRs each having three cars. That’s four people per car, a maximum of 10 renters, per regulations.
It has been estimated there are about 600 STRs or more on the Hill. So, hypothetically, three cars per 600 rentals would be 1,800 more cars trying to evacuate on 243.
Mr. Woody Henderson did mention the fire-evacuation issue; I applaud him for that. I also appreciate Peter Szabadi stressing the need for caps on the number of STRs allowed on the Hill, and wondering why it is taking so long to resolve this critical issue.
Other fire issues include the use of barbecues at STRs. I don’t think even propane barbecues should be allowed because there is still a flame involved.
I also don’t think indoor fireplaces should be available for use at STRs. There is a certain amount of “science” involved in keeping an indoor fire burning properly and safely. Some woods have resins that heat up, pop and can throw sparks. Log fires have to be stoked so the wood settles, and won’t roll out of the fireplace. If a fire screen is not used properly, a fire could easily start.
Chimneys must be maintained. There should also be a special place for cigarette smoking, on a concrete surface, with ashtrays containing sand so there is no chance of cigarette butts smoldering and being blown by a breeze.
We locals are not just concerned about ourselves in these dangerous situations, we are also concerned about visitors and STR renters who could suffer the consequences of a fire on the Hill. We all need to be able to evacuate safely. Whenever we hear a siren, or a helicopter, we get anxious. Whenever the wind gets blustery, we get anxious.
We always have important items within reach in case we have to evacuate. We live with the threat of fire, unless there is a good snow pack, or there has been a lot of rain.
3rd generation Idyllwild