Decision to phase out Vacation Rentals on the line in Cathedral City

CATHEDRAL CITY — The City Council on Wednesday will decide whether to stand by its decision in July to phase out short-term vacation rentals or ultimately let the voters decide in a special election.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has estimated the cost of the special election to be between $75,000 and $85,000.

Is Special Election Ahead for Vacation Rentals?

Signatures delivered to City Hall.

On Oct. 13, Share Cathedral City, which was assisted by I Love Cathedral City, submitted the signatures of 4,339 registered voters in a referendum petition demanding the City Council either repeal the new short-term vacation rental (STVR) ordinance or submit it to the voters.

In an interview with Uken Report in October, City Councilmember Mark Carnevale said the City Council wanted to phase out vacation rentals to uphold a quality of life in the community.

“It’s not about the money,” he said at the time. “It’s about the quality of life. That’s my biggest point. I respect their referendum. If they want to challenge it, I respect that, and that’s their right to do so. But at the end of the day, I’m not backing down. I’m staying firm with my decision on this.”

A referendum petition must be signed by not less than 10% of the voters of the City. On Nov.  24, 2020, the Registrar of Voters informed the city that the petition contained 3,515 valid signatures of registered voters within the city, which is more than 10% of the city’s registered voters.

In response to the petition to repeal, the city attorney is recommending that the City Council reconsider Ordinance No. 842 regulating short-term vacation rentals and either a) direct staff to prepare an Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 842 in its entirety; or b) adopt a resolution calling a March 2, 2021 special election to submit a referendum on retaining Ordinance No. 842, in its entirety to the voters.

In a report to staff, City Attorney Eric Vail said that in public correspondence, testimony, and previous calls and complaints, hundreds  of Cathedral City residents have expressed concern with the safety and noise impacts of short term vacation rentals in their neighborhoods and have requested that the City
better address local public safety concerns.

In response, the city initiated over a year of engagement with local residents to solicit extensive community feedback to respond to local concerns—including months of study from a local citizen task force and deliberation from the City Council, with a significant amount of public input.

The safety and noise impacts of significant increases in short term rentals in neighborhoods are substantial from the viewpoint of long term Cathedral City residents.

In feedback obtained by the city, many residents feel that, too often, short-term vacation renters do not respect the local full-time residents who live nearby and make their residential neighborhoods less safe. Short-term rental guests often stay up late, have loud, alcohol-fueled parties, and disrupt local residents who need to get to sleep and be ready for work or school the next day. And too often, they leave trash on
neighborhood streets and yards and take up loads of neighborhood parking spaces.

Additionally, residents have been made to feel unsafe by the dangerous and sometimes criminal activity of short-term renters in Cathedral City, including a stabbing earlier this year, according to the city attorney.

Image Sources

  • Petitions: I Love Cathedral City
  • Vacation rentals: Shutterstock