At mayor’s request, City Council will discuss vacation rental moratorium at end of month

Councilmember Christy Holstege, voicing opposition to having the discussion, said she feared any temporary halt on issuing licenses would result in a flood of applications and fear in the market.

Alarmed by the growth in applications for short-term vacation rental licenses, Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton called for a discussion on a temporary moratorium on the licenses at the next City Council meeting on July 28.

At issue: Earlier this year the Council began the lengthy process of reviewing its short-term vacation rental rules, some of the strictest in the country, in hopes of striking a balance between the needs of the hospitality industry and residents concerned with oversaturation of rentals in their neighborhoods. Councilmembers stopped short of halting permits at the time, hoping to wait until the work of a citizen workgroup was completed in the fall.

  • As the Council’s meeting was wrapping up late Thursday evening, however, Middleton said it was time to consider moving up discussion of a possible moratorium. Councilmember Geoff Kors and Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner agreed.

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What they’re saying: “I am very concerned in the growth that we have had in the permits that have been taken out in the course of this year. We run the risk of having a significantly larger number of permits pulled between now and whenever it is that we ultimately make a decision as to what rule changes, if any, we are going to have with regard to vacation rentals.” – Mayor Lisa Middleton

By the numbers: As of the last available report, there are 2,347 licensed short-term vacation rentals in the city (about 6.7% of the housing stock). Middleton said that number reflects 600 additional licenses since stricter regulations went into effect in 2017.

  • “I think we have to consider whether or not it’s time to impose a hold on new permits until we complete the work that we have started,” Middleton said, emphasizing that the July 28 discussion would not necessarily lead to a vote on any type of moratorium.

But wait: Councilmember Christy Holstege, voicing opposition to having the discussion, said she feared any temporary halt on issuing licenses would result in a flood of applications and fear in the market, adding, “Temporary moratoriums have typically been a year or two years.”

Next steps: City Manager Justin Clifton said he would instruct staff to make room for the discussion on the July 28 agenda.

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