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Officials Are Cracking Down On Airbnbs In Joshua Tree

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Airbnbs and other short-term rentals in the Joshua Tree area used to be unregulated. Now San Bernardino County is requiring rental owners to have a permit and pass an inspection.

Some residents have pushed back against the new rules, saying officials are unfairly strict when they inspect units for building code violations. And some of the complaints that inspectors are being heavy-handed seem credible, says county spokesman David Wert.

"They're looking at things that don't need to be looked at, code violations that don't really pertain to the rental aspect of the property," he says.

To address some of those concerns, the county has advised code inspectors "to be courteous, to be customer service oriented, that these folks are our customers, they're not violators," Wert says.

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But he also stresses that it's an inspector's job to make sure rental units are safe.

"You have some properties out there where there will be a main house that was built with the necessary permits and then over the years, people have added on rooms to them or built another structure on the property that weren't permitted," he says. "Those kinds of properties can't be used for short-term rentals because they aren't permitted and therefore there was no inspection done to make sure that they can stand up to the wind, or that the electricity is safe and up to code."

The new regulations came about after the county received complaints from residents about short-term rentals becoming party houses. Now there will be a cap on the number of people who can stay in a rental unit depending on its square footage.

The new law took effect in December, and short-term rental owners have until Mar. 31 to apply for a permit. As of Tuesday, the county had received 121 permit applications.

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