A temporary moratorium on new short-term rentals within unincorporated communities of Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Mountain Center and the Temecula Valley Wine Country Policy area has been extended through Sept. 9 of next year.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to extend a temporary short-term rental moratorium through September of next year.

“We’re talking about the rights of people to have peace and quiet at their home when there are mad parties going every weekend,” Supervisor Jeff Hewitt said before voting yes on the extension. “We’re also talking about the rights of people to be able to afford something that certainly only wealthy people could do, but they’ve been able to buy a vacation home in a beautiful area, and maybe if they rent it out a few times, to short-term rentals, they can make that payment. There’s rights on both sides here.”

Hewitt, who noted that approximately 75% of the speakers at the meeting were in favor of the moratorium being extended, said that while he felt that the more than 10 month extension was too long, he understood the “tremendous weight” county staff had been put under when it came to addressing the issues residents have been having with short-term rentals.

“Because of the increasing numbers of [short-term rentals], both our businesses and our residents are enduring a great deal of pain and suffering,” Marcia Kennedy, a resident of Idyllwild, said. “At this point in time, [short-term rentals] are crippling Idyllwild’s businesses. Employees can’t find housing, and that means that businesses can’t find employees. Long-term rentals are what Idyllwild needs, not [short-term rentals].

And while many speakers focused on the impact short-term rentals have had on their quality of life, thers, like wine country resident Paul Petrella, focused their ire on those who support the wider industry.

“The [short-term rental] industry advocates are laser focused on nothing but putting money in their pockets, the perpetuation of their special interests and making more money,” he said. “If they’re here today in support of the extension, it’s only because it limits their competition and puts more money in their pockets. If they’re here today opposed to the extension, it’s only because they have more properties in their queue and they want to get them in operation so they could put more money in their pockets. 

“Make no mistake, the [short-term rental] industry folks are nothing but vultures from predators destroying our neighborhoods, and their only concern and mission in life is money, money, money,” Petrella continued.

But those who were there in opposition to the moratorium’s extension, bristled at how they were referred to by area residents.

“We’re not vultures, predators, snowflakes, fire dangers, greed monsters, all these things we’ve clearly been called,” Melanie Bomar said. “We own [a short-term rental] in Idyllwild that we rent out and use for ourselves. We’re currently in Idyllwild using our cabin right now.

“The extremely loud vocal minority against [short-term rentals] should not get their way just because they’re loud, mad and have time for these meetings,” she continued. “Us [short-term rental] owners are landowners and taxpayers who provide for our local economy and cherish Idyllwild ourselves.”

After hearing all of the speakers, both for and against extending the moratorium, Supervisor Chuck Washington, whose district includes the impacted areas, spoke in favor of extending the moratorium.

“It’s good to have people come down and be a part of the process,” he said. “Today we’re talking about extending the moratorium, and I would like to appeal to my colleagues that we extend the moratorium because the reason we passed a moratorium in the first place was because we knew the staff needed more time to get the work done.”

In the next 10 months, Washington said he wants to see a citizen’s committee formed to bring together stakeholders who can then work together to bring back recommendations to the board for how to move forward with short-term rentals in the unincorporated communities of Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Mountain Center and the Temecula Valley Wine Country Policy area.

“Let’s get this done over the next 11 months, and let’s make sure we craft the best ordinance we can for those two very, very unique places,” Hewitt said before reading out the vote.

Tuesday’s action followed last week’s adoption of two amended ordinances that made changes to occupancy limits, notification requirements and the fees associated with short-term rentals.

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