VRON-PS is supporting the GoFundMe effort to assist with the legal costs being borne by 7 Palm Springs vacation rental owners. For any questions or inquiries regarding the validity of this lawsuit, please email [email protected].
Summary of the Protect Our Neighborhoods vs. the City of Palm Springs Lawsuits
Protect Our Neighborhoods (PON) was created in 2014 and has been responsible for the lawn signs scattered through our neighborhoods to ban or limit vacation rentals.
PON Lawsuit #1
The City Council passed our current ordinance on April 13, 2017. Before the ordinance was passed, PON threatened to sue the City and filed a lawsuit on March 13, 2017 right after the first and prior to the final City Council vote. PON stated:
PON’s main concern and contention is that the City’s practice of allowing single-family vacation rentals to operate in (R-1) zones without a Land Use Permit (“LUP”) or similar permit is inconsistent with the City’s General Plan and zoning ordinance, which allows very limited commercial activity in the R-1 zone subject to obtaining an LUP or a Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”).
Shortly after Marla Malaspina, Bruce Padula, Michael Frick, and Tim Erkins each filed sworn affidavits stating how they were negatively impacted by vacation rentals.
With these affidavits and PON’s self-declared and unknown membership representing other impacted homeowners, they requested an injunction to prevent the issuance of any new VR permits until the issue could be either be settled or a court ruling was issued. The judge denied their injunction on May 5, 2017. Within days of not achieving an injunction, Neighbors 4 Neighborhoods (N4N) emerged to begin the vacation ban initiative effort. N4N could not use the title "Protect our Neighborhoods" for the initiative because it was already registered for use as a Ballot Initiative Committee via the state of California. While all of us were focused on beating Measure C, the first PON court case was delayed multiple times by the City citing the need for additional time to gather the discovery documents requested by PON’s attorney.
PON Lawsuit #2
To many people's surprise, PON filed a 2nd lawsuit on December 27, 2017. It named not only the City, but eight individual VR permit holders as "parties of interest." These VR homeowners did not have a Happy Holiday due to the Summons and a Writ of Mandate served to them on their doorsteps at their primary residences just after Christmas, 2017. These VR permit holders were randomly chosen from all permit renewals processed by the City within 90 days of the court filing. These permit holders have done nothing wrong other than to have a permit. To help reduce their individual legal defense bills, VRON has participated in obtaining a single Palm Springs attorney to represent them as a group.
This lawsuit (referred to as PON #2) contends:
- The City cannot provide a VR Permit for any single-family residence without first issuing a Conditional Use Permit or a Land Use Permit. VRON NOTE: New Estate Homes applying for a permit are already required to file for a Conditional Use Permit under the current ordinance.
- The City is violating its' own regulatory scheme by allowing vacation rentals that are not ancillary and secondary to the residential use of the property.
- The City is violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not having paid for and performed a study of the impact of vacation rentals on the entire city and argue that the VR Ordinance was and is subject to CEQA for purposes of assessing its' impact on noise, traffic and circulation, trash, vandalism, etc. Lawsuit #2 also includes an argument that the City must comply with CEQA before the issuance of any individual VR permits as well.
- Most condominiums are not located in "condominium hotel" zoned areas and violates the City's stated effort to preserve multi-family residential housing stock.
The irony of #4 above is the claim by Measure C (ban on vacation rentals) backers last June that they wanted to “allow condominiums” and just ban single-family residences while at the same time they trying to get VR condominiums banned by a court order.
Current Status of the PON Lawsuits
Last summer, PON Lawsuit #2 was joined and consolidated into PON Lawsuit #1. If anyone really wants to dig into this, the Riverside Superior Court docket case number is: RIC1724363.
There have been multiple filings to delays the proceedings since last summer. In the past month, the case has moved forward with defense briefs filed by the City and the group of VR permit holders. The trial has been scheduled for August 23 in the downtown Riverside County courthouse.