Proponents of a referendum on short-term vacation rentals say they do wear masks while collecting signatures

CATHEDRAL CITY — Both proponents and opponents of a planned referendum on the City Council’s decision to phase out short-term vacation rentals agree on one thing: The worst time to be out collecting signatures is during a worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond that, they are on opposite sides of the argument,

Proponents of a referendum tried to collect signatures online through Change,org but were told that would not work. All signatures on the referendum petition must come from registered Cathedral City voters, City Clerk Tracey Martinez told Uken Report.

Councilor Mark Carnevale told Uken Report that proponents of the referendum were going to supermarkets without masks and knocking on residents’ doors without masks.

That’s not true, David William Leonard told Uken Report, adding that Carnevale was not fair in making judgments about signature seekers. They all do in fact wear masks when collecting signatures,

“I’m a front-line worker. I put my life on the line every day for the safety of others,” William Leonard wrote in a message. “So, I find his comments misleading, hurtful and wrong. We also have enough pens so every time someone signs they can keep the pen and the next person gets a new one. We have branded sanitizer and masks for everyone.”

William Leonard said those pushing forward the referendum tried to work with the City Council, but it persisted in phasing out STVRs.

“They ignored us, just like they ignored the advice of the task force, even after our warning,” William Leonard said. “We have been pushed into a corner by the Council. Now they are surprised when we have to now legally collect signatures.”

William Leonard is a resident who owns a vacation rental. He also works as a flight attendant. He said he rents out his house out when he’s away for work,  to help offset his mortgage costs.

In September, the City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance to phase out short-term vacation rentals (STVR) in residential neighborhoods by the end of 2022.

This decision punctuated more than a year of public input, the creation of a short-term vacation rental task force, and significant deliberation. The newly adopted ordinance was scheduled to go into effect on Friday Oct. 9, 2020.

The ordinance calls for a phase out of short-term vacation rentals (STVR) in residential neighborhoods by the end of 2022 with two key exceptions:

  • Homes located in neighborhoods governed by Homeowners Associations (HOAs a.k.a. Common Interest Developments) that permit such use and;
  • Home-sharing vacation rentals.  Home sharing means that the home is the owner’s primary or principal residence and rents out a portion of the property.  Rules include that the owner may only have one primary or principal residence and the owner of the home is onsite during the rental period.  Typically, home sharing is where the owner rents out a room or casita on their property.

Petitioners will need to collect 10% of the number of voters last reported by the Secretary of State, City Clerk Tracey R. Martinez said. She estimates that to be about 2,300. Exact figures were not immediately available.

Petitioners have 30 days from the date the City Clerk attested the ordinance, which was Sept, 14, to deliver the petitions for verification.

Photo caption above: Brian Felber is a Cathedral City resident. He is married to David William Leonard.

Image Sources

  • Brian Felber: David William Leonard