By JP Crumrine


            The Riverside County Board of Supervisors will consider a 45-day moratorium on issue new Short-term Rental (STR) Certificates in Idyllwild, Pine Cove, Mountain Center and the Temecula Valley Wine Country Policy Area.

            The moratorium specifically will not prohibit using existing approved STRs in these areas or renewing certificates for properties that already have an approved certificate.

            The action will be in the form of an urgency ordinance (449.251) and will require, at least, four of the five supervisors to approve it.

            The “urgency” has come about because of the large increase in STR certificate applications since the grand jury report on STRs in June 2021. The accompanying background paper says that prior to the grand jury report, the county received an average of eight new STR applications a month. In the month following the report’s release, the county received 48 new STR applications. Since then, the Planning Commission has held two hearings on the proposed new ordinance and at the board meeting last month, which also included this subject, the average of new applications had increased to 54 monthly.

            According to the county’s Transportation and Land Management staff, 62% of the current STR applications are for properties in these areas. And nearly 12% of housing in these areas is available for STRs. The density of STRs in these areas far exceeds any other neighborhood in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

            Consequently, the board wants to allow its staff time to “… consider density control measures and potential caps, as recommended by the Planning Commission for both of these unique areas.”

            The staff is proposing a 45-day period to ensure there are no negative effects on the residential neighborhoods, no increased threat to public safety and no possible conflict with new policies. 

            If four supervisors agree, the ordinance will take effect immediately and expire Friday, Oct. 28.

            The proposed ordinance acknowledges that STRs have been available in the county for a long time and offer benefits, by expanding the number and type of lodging facilities. However, their rapid, extreme growth in these neighborhoods has caused health and safety concerns, such as noise, garbage and parking.

            The threat and danger of fires in the three Hill areas is one of the concerns the staff hopes to address. This includes evacuation procedures and fire safety.