On Feb. 11, Sherry Barkas reported on the petition drive created by Neighbors for Neighborhoods La Quinta, which would ask voters whether the city should phase out most short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.
No future city council could decide to amend that decision without another ballot initiative, which takes control away from elected representatives.
The group I belong to, Vacation Rental Owners and Neighbors of La Quinta (VRON-LQ), believes that tourism and residents can co-exist through smart policies and best practices. Through research, open data, community involvement, collaboration, transparency and ethics, effective policies can be developed that create a win-win for neighbors, renters, businesses, property owners and the community at large.
Many other communities debating this situation have created policies and procedures that have addressed the concerns and minimized issues related to short-term vacation rentals.
The article stated: “In December, staff reported that the stiffer penalties were working and complaints of noise, illegal parking and trash from short-term rentals had decreased substantially since July 2020, when the city saw a spike in complaints as the pandemic drove more people to vacation rentals.”
This is an important point: The procedures La Quinta has already put in place have had a dramatic impact on the complaints from neighbors.
At VRON-LQ, we are suggesting the city create policies, procedures, and a response mechanism to address any issues presented by vacation rentals.
By working as a community, we can make rules that are easy to explain to the growing number of tourists who choose to spend their money in our city — and easy to enforce in case anyone violates them.
Banning short-term vacation rentals outright would negatively impact La Quinta in profound ways. According to a draft of a forthcoming report (“Economic Impact of Short-term Rentals in Greater Palm Springs 2020”) by Tourism Economics, short-term rental visitors spent $108 million at La Quinta businesses in 2020, or about $300,000 per day.
That means short-term rentals, or STRs, supported 692 jobs in La Quinta.
State and local tax revenues from STR stays totaled $17.5 million in 2020, consisting primarily of sales tax, lodging tax and prorated portions of homeowners' property taxes.
By eliminating short-term rentals outright, businesses and all La Quinta residents would suffer. La Quinta STR properties generate significantly more lodging tax revenue than the area hotels. If that goes away, it will not be replaced.
If STRs are diminished or eliminated, it will significantly lower the amount of revenue that the city needs to fund basic services. This will result in lack of financial support for police, fire and other emergency services, as well as limiting improvements like paving roads and installing crosswalks.
La Quinta’s elected officials are responsible for making the lives of all residents better. This cannot be done effectively if they do not have the ability to act. The $17.5 million in state and local taxes generated by STRs helps cover the salaries for firefighters, police officers and other essential workers.
We are advocating that we all work together to create a system that works for everyone: residents, merchants, visitors and city government.
Instead of eliminating vacation rental homes, we want to work together to improve the system so that we can all coexist peacefully. We invite Neighbors for Neighborhoods La Quinta to join us in creating a solution that works for all.