Riverside County Budget Includes $1.8 Million to Create New Team for Code Enforcement and Sheriff for Short-Term Rental Enforcement
RIVERSIDE COUNTY — From Idyllwild to Palm Springs to La Quinta, short-term rental enforcement is essential to protect the quality of life in residential neighborhoods and keep them safe. Desert cities have been begging for help.
That’s going to cost money.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has ponied up. They have included in the newly adopted budget, which took effect July 1, $1.8 million to strengthen enforcement of the county’s short-term rental ordinance.
The budget includes $825,000 for Code Enforcement to create a 10-member countywide team dedicated to short-term rental enforcement, so that resources aren’t pulled away from Code Enforcement’s coverage in county neighborhoods. Supervisor V. Manuel Perez is also contributing $350,000 in Fourth District Unincorporated Communities Initiative funding to support the Code Enforcement Department’s staffing. Perez has wanted to establish dedicated Code Enforcement positions in Idyllwild, as the Idyllwild-Pine Cove area has the most registered short-term rentals in the county unincorporated area.
The Unincorporated Communities Initiative was established in 2021 to assist with projects and needs of the unincorporated communities, Darin A. Schemmer, communications director for Perez, said. In the county budget, $10 million, $2 million for each of the five Supervisorial districts, has been set aside for this fund. Supervisor Perez brings projects to be paid for from the Fourth District Unincorporated Communities Initiative funding as an agenda item on which the Board of Supervisors vote.
The budget also includes $662,000 for the Sheriff’s Department to form a team of four deputy Sheriffs dedicated to responding to short-term rental complaints. The deputies will help with after-hours complaints of noise, disturbances of the peace, and public safety concerns.
STR complaints have been an ongoing issue brought up by the board, and to a lesser extent Code Enforcement, about the enforcement/handling of the complaints Sheriff Chad Bianco told Uken Report.
“Working up to budget presentations, the executive office presented us with a proposal to work with Code Enforcement,” Bianco said. “My opinion of the proposal was that it was certainly not an efficient use of funds, it was dangerous to unarmed code enforcement officers. and caused another potential burden placed on responding deputies to safely manage noise complaints involving STR’s.”
His solution to have four full-time deputy sheriffs assigned to enforcement of STR rules/regulations was far cheaper, involved less bureaucracy, and mitigated the risk of responding deputies/officers to violations, Bianco said.
“I told the executive office I would not have deputies work on an overtime basis with unarmed code enforcement officers as would have occurred in the original proposal,” Bianco said. “I came up with what I believe is a more efficient and cost-saving way of handling the issue. We will have the deputies reporting to a supervisor who manages other special teams.”
Most complaints associated with STVR’s are noise violations and end without consequence for the homeowner or persons responsible for the violation, the sheriff said. During the time-frame most violations occur, Code Enforcement does not work. Calls to Sheriff’s Dispatch must be handled by priority and a noise complaint is the least important when Deputies are likely to dealing with crimes against persons.
“By having a dedicated team responsible for the STR’s, it will become very apparent to STR owners, that violations will not be tolerated and will be expensive,” Bianco said. “I believe over time the violations will greatly subside. I do want to emphasize that all STR’s are not the problem. The problem is those STR’s (that) routinely cause quality of life issues in neighborhoods. Recently, we, along with other southern California law enforcement agencies have noticed an increase in violence at parties at STR’s, and an increased danger for law enforcement in our response.”
Perez and Supervisor Chuck Washington represent two areas of the county with the bulk of the short-term rentals in the county unincorporated area, Idyllwild-Pine Cove and Temecula Wine Country, respectively. These communities — Idyllwild-Pine Cove and Mountain Center and the unincorporated area of Temecula Wine Country — are currently under a moratorium on new short-term rental permits. The moratorium will give the Supervisors and ad hoc committees for both areas time to examine options for further potential short‑term rental policies going forward.
Perez has held three townhall meetings in Idyllwild since representing the Hill at the start of 2023. He repeatedly heard the plea for greater enforcement when it comes to the short-term rental ordinance. The money approved for enforcement are reportedly “unprecedented resources” in the county budget.
“One of the main issues that has come up is enforcement overall,” Perez said in a statement. “What will be key to managing short‑term rentals successfully is a robust enforcement program, and having these new teams including staff dedicated in Idyllwild will greatly help all with enforcement of the requirements of the ordinance, as well as noise, parking and any public safety concerns. These funds for staffing will help the community as we address short-term rentals in Idyllwild‑Pine Cove.”
“Short-term rentals bring visitors to Riverside County,” Washington said in a statement. “We want them here, but we want them here without disturbing neighborhoods and being dangerous. The additional dollars to code enforcement and sheriff will ensure they are managed properly without being a nuisance.”
Code Enforcement and the Sheriff’s Department will form these teams in the coming months, according to Perez.
- Vacation Rental: Shutterstock
- Sheriff Chad Bianco: Sheriff Chad Bianco
- Supervisor-Chuck-Washington: RivCo
- Group Of Friends Arriving At Summer Vacation Rental: Shutterstock