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Hoping for a Palm Springs getaway? The city just cracked down on Airbnb

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The new rules are pretty tough


Palm Springs has been the desert refuge for everyone in LA from Frank Sinatra to hipsters on their way back from Coachella. But it looks like it’s about to get more difficult to book that poolside getaway.

The city on Wednesday passed a law that would limit the number of places and times a property owner can offer a room for rent, with hefty fines for violators. The new law does the following:

  • Caps the number of times a home can be rented at 32 per year.
  • Raises permit fees to $900 a year per home from $234.
  • Hikes fines for operating a vacation home without a permit to $5,000. Failure to report each rental agreement would result in a $2,500 fine.
  • Restricts the number of vacation rental permits an individual or business can own. (Ninety-eight individuals with two vacation rentals have been grandfathered in.)
  • Forms a new Vacation Rental Enforcement Department, with nine new staff positions. Permit fees would pay the estimated $1.7 million annual cost of the new department.

It'll take a couple of months for the city to implement the new rules.

There are about 2,000 registered short-term rentals in Palm Springs, with another 1,000 operating illegally, The Desert Sun reported.

Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty told Curbed he’s disappointed in the city’s decision. He said it will, “cut off an economic lifeline for many residents and have a long term negative impact on the local tourism industry."

With its new law, Palm Springs joins a list of Southern California communities taking a hard look at Airbnb and other short-term rental services. Cities worry that the services gobble up available housing, adding to the region's high rents and low vacancies.

Residents of communities such as Palm Springs object to the disruption short-term rentals bring to residential neighborhoods.

And, more traditional hostelries such as hotels and motels worry about the competition.

But proponents of short-term rentals argue that they benefit strapped property owners, offer affordable accommodations to visitors, and contribute to local economic growth.

Santa Monica was among the first cities in Southern California to enact strict regulations on short-term rentals in May and has since imposed fines on hosts who violate them and even levied a fine of $20,000 on Airbnb itself. The service sued the city in September, arguing that the city's new rules are unconstitutional.

Draft regulations have been proposed in the city of Los Angeles, but the City Council has yet to adopt them.