April is Festival Month

This has been one very busy week …  and thank goodness, I think my staff survived.  Guess I’ll find out Monday morning!   April 1st …  it’s the busiest departure day of the season, but it’s been so hot in the desert these past few weeks that our guests have been dropping like flies.  Every morning we’d open emails from tenants who said, “too hot we’re leaving.”   We all just laughed.  High 90s is comfortable to us desert dwellers … hot is anything over 110 degrees.  So we said good-bye to most of our snowbirds this week … many who have been with us for multiple months.

Now it’s Easter weekend and throughout the balance of April we’ll have mostly short rentals … weekends, weekly.   Then after April … might as well roll up the sidewalks.  While the rest of the desert is gearing up for April’s three weekends of music festivals, the two weekends of Coachella and the Stagecoach weekend, Vacation Rentals of the Desert is only focusing on spring break, families and golfers.  Some think we’re crazy … there’s a lot of money in renting out during these big event weekends, but I look at the bigger picture.  With the fest goers it’s not the damage … damage I can deal with.  It’s the disruption in the neighborhoods and the uproar from the local residents.

Between you and me … it drives me nuts.  I’d love to bring in the rental money, but I just can’t do it.  I’ll explain.  Once the party starts … responsibility can quickly fly out the window.  Say I rent a three bedroom home to three couples.  That’s fine, legal and under normal circumstances, probably wouldn’t be a problem.  But now these three couples go to the music fest and party all day, meet other really super people at the fest who don’t have a place to stay.  They invite them to sleep in the living room … plenty of floor space, no problem.  So now the city’s vacation rental ordinance has been violated by over-occupancy.  But here’s the even bigger problem … when they get to the house after midnight, they don’t go to bed.  They’re not done for the night. They all sit outside and have a few beers, hangout by the pool, talk, play some music.  After midnight, in a quiet neighborhood, in April when many people sleep with their windows open … well you can bet the resident next door is going to be disturbed and may even call the police or the vacation rental hotline.  Guess who gets the next call … me.  Then I have to deal with a house full of drunk or high people who may take offence at being scolded … after all “we’re on vacation and we paid top dollar for this rental.”  Now we have drunk or high disgruntled people in a vacation rental property and they start super- gluing the wine glasses to the ceiling, smoking inside the house and of course at least one person gets sick on the carpet … you can image the rest.  AND the neighbors are now never going to say another civil word to the property owner, they are going to bad mouth my company and they’ll show up at every city council meeting, voicing their anger and demanding a ban on short term rentals entirely.  Just because of these three weekends.  Well maybe not just these three weekends but mostly these three weekends.  Heck, even the local news stations and papers add fuel to the fire.  They start warning residents weeks before Coachella and Stagecoach, to protect your properties and get out of dodge to avoid all the mayhem.

Another vacation rental company owner once told me that he has ways of making sure that his tenants behave.  Please explain exactly how that’s done.   Once someone is drunk or stoned … responsibility flies out the window.  I don’t care what kind of assurances or guarantees you get when they call.  Even if they say they are “responsible non-partying professionals” …  during the event, it’s an entirely different story.   Just think of the recent events of the President’s Secret Service and their behavior … and they’re supposed to be the best of the best!

And every year … immediately after the April festivals … the city councils are inundated with unhappy residents and we inevitably are handed down even more and stricter vacation rental ordinance rules which drive the non-disruptive vacation rental business away from the desert.  The people who stay, spend money and eventually buy property and retire.

We handle over eighty vacation rental condominiums in Rancho Las Palmas Country Club, about 10% of the entire community.  If all these properties were rented for the fests you can be sure the residents would vote against short term vacation rentals within the year.  In the long run, my company and the owners have a lot more to lose than three weekends of rent and the possibility of property damage, fines, etc.

So … we don’t do Coachella Fest or Stagecoach.  We don’t do these events because we value and respect our owner’s properties and the communities.  I wish it was different, but sometime the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

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