- Success Story
- Garden Grove
How a Popular Tourist Destination Collected Evidence for 80 Citations in 3 Months With Host Compliance
Code enforcement staff at Garden Grove struggled with enforcing their short term rental (STR) ordinance amid rising complaints. It was difficult to obtain enough evidence to cite an illegal STR. With Host Compliance, staff have all the evidence they need to bring illegal STRs into compliance or to cite them.
- 229 Listings The City was able to identify the units associated with the listings.
- 1 Employee The City hired a full-time officer dedicated to STR enforcement.
- 4x Efficiency Staff complete 4x the amount of work.
- 80 Citations Issued within first three months of using the software.
Limited Staff & Limited Evidence
Garden Grove’s location is central to many theme parks in Orange County, California, making it a popular destination for tourists. At one point, the City was named the fourth-best city to invest in an Airbnb by IBX 1031. However, the City’s municipal code has never allowed short-term rentals (STRs) in residential zones.
City staff enforced the ordinance for years, citing short-term rentals as commercial use with a fine of $1,000 per day per violation. However, citizen complaints related to adverse effects (noise, parking, traffic, trash, light, and safety) began to rise. Many residents were calling emergency numbers with their concerns.
It became more difficult to regulate STRs. In a city council update, staff noted that challenges to enforcement included:
- Limited staffing resources.
- An inability to identify addresses of STR units — hosts purposefully excluded pictures of the exterior of the unit.
- An inability to obtain enough evidence to write a citation — property owners coached renters to say they are friends or visitors, for example.
Educating Hosts at Over 200 Units
Looking for a solution, staff began to evaluate different STR compliance software.
The Host Compliance software found 229 active listings in Garden Grove and automatically identified the addresses of those listings.
Through the software’s Compliance Monitoring module, which allows users to send letters to hosts with a few clicks, staff provide hosts with educational material. This material gives hosts the chance to come into compliance before staff issue a citation. “I think that’s very important when you’re putting together any type of enforcement program. Educate the public first, and then follow through with proper enforcement,” said Roque.
The City also opted for the software’s 24/7 hotline to reduce the burden on police; citizens can now file a complaint online or by calling.
Evidence for 80 Citations & $160k in Fines
Within the first three months of using Host Compliance, City staff issued 80 citations, which resulted in $160,000 in fines.
“Through our data-enabled program, we find that some hosts have a blatant disregard for short-term rental regulations. We’re able to continually collect evidence with the Host Compliance software, which allows us to escalate our enforcement, take it to a criminal matter, create additional regulations, and modify our code.”
Roque notes that the City has been able to recover many of the costs associated with regulating the STR industry in Garden Grove. The City was able to hire a full-time code enforcement officer and complete four times the amount of work.