Eblast: June 10, 2024

  • Short Term Rental Report to be ‘Received’ by Board of Supervisors
  • Chuckwalla National Monument
  • Light Trespass Ordinance update
  • Rooftop Solar On-The-Ropes in California
  • ‘I Thought They Were Protected’ Film Screening

Short Term Rental Report to be ‘Received’ by Board of Supervisors

The County continues to downplay the negative impacts of short-term rentals locally!

In December 2023, MBCA prepared this comprehensive response to the Technical Memorandum about STRs submitted to the County in November by Placeworks consultants. In it we pointed out in detail how conclusions in the report asserting they could find no data about ill effects from STR businesses in our Morongo Basin neighborhoods, were directly contradicted by existing County statements. 

Now, after an extended delay, the county has released a revised report on a ‘Summary of Short-term Rental Outreach and Study Findings’ to be considered by the Board of Supervisors. Item #121 of the upcoming proposed agenda of the June 11, 2024  Board of Supervisors meeting is to:

Receive Short-Term Rental Study report evaluating the impacts of short-term rentals on the housing supply in the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, prepared in accordance with Program 4 of the County's Housing Element Technical Report.

The Conclusion of the ‘Technical Memorandum’:
Clear and empirical data was not found indicating that short-term rentals (STRs) have a substantial and distinct impact on the availability of long-term, rental or ownership housing options in most unincorporated Mountain and East Desert communities. However, an accumulation of data and analysis of key factors indicates that STR activity is negatively affecting the long-term ownership and rental housing market in Joshua Tree.

…The Board is to provide direction to Land Use Services and Community Development and Housing Departments to establish and implement the following proposed strategies to reduce the impacts of short-term rentals and return, as needed, to the Board of Supervisors for future action:

  1. Augment existing affordable housing programs.
  2. Consider new affordable housing programs.

MBCA believes the requirements of the Program 4 Study, upon which the acceptance of the current Housing Element by the State is conditioned, have not been addressed in the Technical Memorandum to be considered.

The memorandum does not:

  • Address if a limit on STRs is needed. (Land Use Services is not recommending any limits on STRs)
  • Evaluate incentives to encourage long-term rentals.
  • Accurately study transition from long-term to short-term rentals.
  • Study the displacement caused by STRs.
  • Evaluate STR impacts on motels/hotels.

MBCA continues to assert the Program 4 Study presents an opportunity, which has yet to be realized, to support the health of our local economy and communities by:

  • Providing an analysis of the housing for each distinct community within the unincorporated county. This analysis should contain an inventory of all available housing, with tabulations for single family, multiple family, long term rentals, and Short-Term Rentals.
  • Implementing appropriate limits on the number of STRs within communities at a neighborhood level. While the STR market is changing rapidly, consideration should be given to when a limit should be placed. When 25%, 50%,100% of housing is STRs? Establishing a threshold will protect the future integrity of our communities. Further, an entire street should not be allowed to be STRs.
  • Studying the ownership of STRs to assure the restriction on ownership is following the ordinance.
  • Establishing a method for distributing TOT revenue to the communities impacted by STRs.
  • Establishing a procedure for evaluation of the impacts of STRs on an ongoing, regular basis to anticipate potential impacts of the dynamic changing STR marketplace.
  • Allocating the necessary funding to undertake these actions.

The recommendations by the LUS staff (see Item 121, the last one on the Agenda), to ‘Augment existing affordable housing programs,’ and ‘Consider new affordable housing programs’  is commendable; however, it is an immense undertaking. Supporting and encouraging housing availability and affordability should be undertaken regardless of the presence of STRs. The Board proposes to review any proposed actions in the ‘Future if needed.’ MBCA supports efforts to augment and provide new affordable housing options. However, we do not believe this approach will offer an effective and timely solution to addressing an oversaturation of STRs in specific unincorporated desert communities lacking the necessary infrastructure to construct such housing.

The analysis within the Staff Report states: This item will not result in the use of Discretionary General Funding (Net County Cost), as receipt of the report is non-financial in nature. However, within the 2024-2025 County Budget, also being considered at this meeting, a paltry 0.13% ($1.9 million) of discretionary general funding is allocated to the Community Revitalization Group, responsible for housing and homelessness programs. The actions proposed to be taken to address the STR issue are clearly not within the budget!

With the recognition that STRs do have an impact on housing availability, the Program 4 study should explicitly recognize that housing security is gained by assuring an adequate supply and variety of affordable housing by protecting and promoting NOAH (Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing) in a community. The Program 4 Study must address the issue of the displacement of renters that occurred with the STR boom and why, and also the elimination of locally owned housing options by STR investors. Actions that encourage local STR ownership where the income and benefits accrue to the local economy should be prioritized. We look forward to participating in the ongoing process of preparing the Program 4 Study and view the current report as another step towards that end.

Chuckwalla National Monument

The effort to create the 627,000-acre Chuckwalla National Monument is continuing with a meeting this coming Friday morning, June 14 in Indio. In addition to creating a new monument, this effort also includes 17,000 acres of land that would be added to Joshua Tree National Park.

We encourage attendance at this meeting where representatives of the Bureau of Land Management, along with Tribal members, environmental organizations, and desert supporters will gather to show support. Please register here to RSVP on your attendance. Please do not share this on social media.

Light Trespass Ordinance update

Even as the days become longer, we are mindful of the San Bernardino County Light Trespass Ordinance which is now in effect. All exterior lighting in the unincorporated desert and mountain communities must comply with the ordinance. We have been encouraged by our Third district Supervisor Dawn Rowe, to contact her Joshua Tree field representative with the address or Assessor’s Parcel Number about potential infractions. An information sheet about the ordinance will be mailed to the property owner. The identity of those making the assertion/complaint will not be revealed. Additionally, we recommend filing a complaint with code enforcement to begin the process of addressing non-compliant lighting.

The contact information for Supervisor Rowe’s field representative, Glen Harris, is: 760-366-1488, email: [email protected]

San Bernardino County code enforcement can be reached here.

Rooftop Solar On-The-Ropes in California

Recent actions by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) continue to discourage the implementation of distributed rooftop solar throughout California. This article in Canary Media provides an overview of the diminishing current rooftop solar market. Most recently, the CPUC adopted a decision that would discourage Community-Battery-Storage, which is technology that has the potential to serve as a lynchpin for resilient, distributed rooftop solar in the State.

On a positive note, should SB-1374 pass, it will allow multi-meter customers including schools to generate electricity on one meter to offset usage on another meter. The Solar Rights Alliance has a portal to contact your California legislator and encourage them to support this bill.

The actions in the State highlight the conflicts over utility scale solar projects such as the Aratina project in Kern County, near Boron, where over 4,300 Joshua trees are in the process of being mulched on-site to allow for construction of a 2,300 acre project. This project was given the go-ahead to ‘take’, as in destroy, Joshua trees prior to the passage of the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act that was passed last year. With the commencement of construction of Aratina, it is sadly ironic that this site is in a recently designated a ‘sentinel landscape’ to promote sustainable land-use practices near military installations.

MBCA recognizes that the climate crisis will require utility-scale renewable energy projects. However, these large projects should be placed on disturbed lands and not on the intact ecosystem of undisturbed desert lands. This report by the Inland Desert Working Group, with contributions by MBCA board directors, convincingly shows the importance of the desert for carbon sequestration and biodiversity.

‘I Thought They Were Protected’ Film Screening

Local film-maker Casey Kiernan has produced this film on Joshua trees that has been selected for the 2024 Palm Springs International ShortFest! The screening will be in Palm Springs on June 23 at 3:30pm. Make your reservations here. Congratulations Casey!

Yes, we must act quickly to address the existential threat of a warming climate, but not at the expense of the irreplaceable and precious ecosystems that supports us all. There are many other viable options available that can be employed to generate clean renewable energy!

Steve Bardwell
Your MBCA Board:

Steve Bardwell, President
David Fick, Vice President
Laraine Turk, Secretary
Cathy Zarakov, Treasurer  
Pat Flanagan, Director;
Stacy Doolittle, Director

Brian Hammer, Director
Janet Johnston, Director
Sarah Kennington, Director
Arch McCulloch, Director
Gary Stiler, Director

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Steve Bardwell
© 2021 GitHub, Inc. Terms Privacy Security Status Docs Contact GitHub Pricing API Training Blog About