Riverside County extends short-term rental moratorium in Idyllwild, Temecula Valley

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Local Politics

City News Service | Contributed

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to extend a moratorium on the issuance of new short-term rental permits in the Temecula Valley, as well as the Idyllwild-Pine Cove area, giving county staff additional time, beyond the year they’ve already had, to apply finishing touches to a revised ordinance.

“I do not like extending this moratorium,” board Chairman Kevin Jeffries said. “I understand the reasoning of why we did it the first time (last year). The county needed some breathing room to figure out what’s going on. But private property rights exist on both sides of the fence, and those rights have to be respected on both sides.”

Despite his reservations, Jeffries joined his four colleagues in voting to implement a second 10-month-long moratorium. Riverside County Transportation & Land Management Agency officials indicated that the duration would not be close to the full period, but probably more like two or three months, with hearings on a proposed modified Short-Term Rental Ordinance, with new conditions applicable only to the Temecula Valley and Idyllwild-Pine Cove, coming as soon as October.

Idyllwild property owner Gerardo Morales told the board any extension was too long, saying he and his family have been in limbo since the last one went into effect nearly a year ago.

“We were really shocked (when the first moratorium on permits was declared last September),” Morales said. “The majority of (short-term rental operators) are living in peace. There’s a very small number of bad apples leaving a bad impression.

“We have been hoping for a chance to obtain a permit. We were told it would be over by September. But now you’re extending it? Extending it will be so detrimental for so many of us who have invested blood, sweat and tears. It’s not fair.”

The current moratorium was slated to expire on Sept. 9. However, TLMA administrators requested the extension because they’re not finished writing proposed amendments to Ordinance No. 927, focusing on language “narrowly tailored to address unique concerns of each community and alleviate … secondary effects and adverse impacts to the public … caused by short-term rentals,” according to a statement posted to the board’s agenda.

The supervisors approved an urgency ordinance establishing the moratorium in mid-September 2022. However, that was only for a 45-day period. So a longer-term moratorium under a modified urgency ordinance was passed on Oct. 25, 2022.

Last Oct. 18, the board signed off on a new short-term rental regulatory framework for unincorporated communities, but Supervisor Chuck Washington and TLMA officials supported excluding the Temecula Valley and Idyllwild-Pine Cove from the new Short-Term Rental Ordinance until specific problems related to enforcement of STR regulations in each location could be ironed out.

The regulatory framework established under Ordinance No. 927 focused on occupancy limitations, noise controls, parking designations and other health and safety provisions for short-term rental properties. It was in response to increasing problems stemming from unlicensed vacation rentals.

TLMA officials told the board last September that applications for rental certificates had surged over the previous 13 months, leading to an average of 54 new certificates being issued every month, a disproportionately high number of them going to property owners in Idyllwild-Pine Cove and the Temecula Valley.

“If the increase continues, adverse impacts that have the potential to endanger the health and safety of residents, guests and the very environment and resources that attract visitors to the county will increase,” according to a TLMA statement.

There are an estimated 1,130 licensed short-term rentals in unincorporated areas countywide, with the greatest concentrations in the Temecula Valley and mountain communities, according to TLMA.

Short-term rentals are defined as residential dwellings leased for a maximum of 30 days and a minimum of two days and one night.

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