Tourism and vacation home rentals were the big topics at last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting. Reporter Heather Clisby was there…
It was standing room only at last night’s Twentynine Palms City Council meeting and the public lectern was in full use.
The first issue was the re-authorization of the Tourism Business Improvement District now in its fourth year. Its chief goal: “To put heads in beds.”
Local hotelier Veno Nathraj asked the council to delay the decision and wait for more data to prove TBID is effective but the council unanimously approved the continuation of TBID.
The council approved the $40,000 needed for necessary inspection to “underground” utility lines for Project Phoenix. The council also approved the Channel Trail Grant Application to enhance the Twentynine Palms Flood Control Channel Trail between Adobe Road and Split Rock Ridge where a bridge is also in the works.
But much of the meeting was a discussion around the pros and cons of vacation home rentals (VHRs). There are currently 80 active VHRs in the city with 10 pending. (Twentynine Palms has 5,380 single-family homes and 1.4 percent of those are VHRs – the smallest percentage among Morongo Basin communities. Joshua Tree has 1,160 VHRs and Yucca Valley has 193.)
The focus was on the Indian Cove neighborhood specifically, but many residents and business owners expressed support for VHRs in general. Per city ordinance, each VHR must have a sign posted out front with the owners’ phone number so they can be easily contacted in case of problem. Captain Luke Niles confirmed that there have been no complaints or issues with VHRs within city limits.
Jim Krushat, who lives between two VHRs, noted that much of the resistance to VHRs had more to do with the “possibility of problems, rather than actual problems.”
Comments from hotel owners, mortgage lenders and VHR cleaners illustrated VHRs as a boon for tourism while also providing flexible incomes to residents. Still, there was concern about VHRs decreasing affordable rental options for residents while also changing the face of a neighborhood.
Ultimately, Mayor Joel Klink and the council declared that a committee made up of residents and council members will be formed to discuss the matter further.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for October 13.