Investing in Joshua tree

30 Replies

Love love tiny home movement Quick inquiries do you need to purchase a lot/land to place a tiny home or camper in Joshua tree purpose utilizing as a short rental? Do you need a permit for such minimal square footage, solar panels, water barrel, septic tanks? What is pros and cons and restrictions in San Bernardino county?

Hi @Fabian Martinez ! To answer your questions...

Q: Do you need to purchase a lot/land to place a tiny home or camper in Joshua tree purpose utilizing as a short rental?

A: Yes, but SB county just started requiring vacation rental owners to get STR permits, and I don't believe they're granting permits to campers/trailers. You might be able to get away with it for a while, as they don't really have enough resources to enforce the permits yet, but I wouldn't count on this as a long-term strategy. Too risky, IMO.

Q: Do you need a permit for such minimal square footage, solar panels, water barrel, septic tanks?

A: Yes, you need a permit for everything now. If you want to get a STR permit, you will need to get permits through SB county for everything you build, to prove that your structure is livable and up to code. Otherwise, you will not be granted a STR permit.

Q: What is pros and cons and restrictions in San Bernardino county?

A: In terms of STRs, things used to be a lot more relaxed here and you could get away with more - yurts, campers/trailers, tents, weddings and events, etc. but now they are enforcing everything a lot more than they used to, and that will only continue to happen more in the future. The SB county permitting process is also very difficult and very slow, in my experience, both for STRs and for building permits. If you want to build a house from scratch here, you can expect the permitting process to take 7-9 months, from what I'm told...unless you're in the limits of the Town of Yucca Valley, which I hear is quicker. 

The only pro to launching a STR in SB county that comes to mind is that currently, I think we're reasonably safe from STRs being banned completely here, due to the fact that there aren't really enough hotels here to accommodate the 3 million annual visitors that come to the JT National Park. But since covid, EVERYONE is trying to launch an Airbnb in the JT area, so I expect to have A LOT more STR competition pop up over the next couple of years. So plan for that. And we're not totally safe from restrictions, so it's still a risk, IMO.

Hope that helps!

@Kristi Allain Thanks appreciate for your The delightful feedback. Yes I have to make a essential decision between Short term or long-term investment process. If you don’t mind asking is it worthwhile investing yucca valley or Joshua tree. Any recommendations with your Savvy expertise? Do you know any general contractors or handyman over there and cleaning crew for short vacation rental?

@Fabian Martinez  Yes, I do think it's worthwhile to invest in STRs here, but you have to really know what you're doing and create a really amazing and unique experience for your guests in order to stand out, because there are A LOT of really amazing STRs out here, and even more that will be launching within the next year. And I do know of a couple of contractors and have a handyman, but can't help you on the cleaning team. Those can be really difficult to find, train, and keep. If you're not living locally, you definitely need a property management company, and they should be able to help you assemble a team of handymen, cleaners, etc. 

@Fabian Martinez , yes. You need to purchase a piece of land to fix your tiny home to. Also, you cannot simply buy a piece of land, put a camper on it, and call it a short-term rental. The structure must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for permitting as an STR and campers, yurts, RVs, anything that is not fixed to the ground will not fly. In the past, you could buy a 10 acre parcel, put a bunch of yurts on it, and rent them out individually short-term but those days are gone.

@Jason Kudo importantly in your expertise was sort of requirements in terms of yurts and RV camper can you please be a little bit more specific if you don’t mind asking  furthermore is county of San Bernardino strict Implementing such restrictions?

No matter where you invest, you need to have the proper permits in place to run a legitimate short-term rental business so how strict a location is with code enforcement shouldn't matter. You should assume that every location is going to be strict with code enforcement. SB County is a good place to invest regardless of the new STR regulations in place. Some regulations are necessary to ensure safety for renters.

@Kristi Allain ! Hello Kirsten. I was wondering ..does JT allow for two detached homes on one property site that has at least 2.5 acres? Do you know if that is allow?

Also all properties need to have a septic tank installed in JT? I also know utilities.. water meter and electric can be a huge expense. Would you know ballpark numbers on those items ?? Thank you very much.

I am also looking into STR market in JT. Would love to connect with more people doing this. I have a lot of questions. Do you use Airdna often? Is it a tool I should invest in? For Jeff Hubert's question- I have found emailing the city's planner for community development can answer those types of questions and it really depends on the lot and size and where it is in my experience.

https://www.yucca-valley.org/o...

@Jeff Hubert I'm a rookie in Joshua Tree. But here is what I know. JT will allow two structures, one considered a main house and one a detached or ADU, on a property as long as it's larger than 2 acres. If less than two acres and you have two structures on it, you have to live in one and can rent out the other. You cannot rent out each of them if the plot is 2acres or less. I found this on an ordinance on the SB County website.

For utilities, it depends on the specific area of Joshua Tree for the cost of the water. Some water meyers are 9600, others are 16,000. On average, I have seen $60 per foot to run water pipes. For electric, $15 a foot, but someone should check me on that. And if you are running electric from a pole, it needs to have a transformer on it (add ~9k for a transformer). And if you need to extend the line longer than 250 ft, $10k with so cal edison to add a pole. 

@Jeff Hubert , if you're looking to build two single-family homes, you would need to subdivide the property. SB County allows for one primary residence, an ADU, and a junior ADU on a parcel of land. However, you cannot rent these structures out separately to different parties. The only reason to build separate structures for short-term rental use would be if you want to provide the option to increase the maximum capacity depending on party size requirements. For example, let's say you had a 2bd/2ba house, a 1bd/1ba adu, and a studio/1bath jadu on the property. If a party size is only 4 people, you could make available only the main structure during their stay. If the party size was 6 people, then you would open up the main structure and the adu, etc. What you cannot do is rent the main structure to one group while an unrelated group is renting the adu and jadu, etc. Does this answer your question?

Jason! Thanks for getting back to me. So why can't I rent the adu to someone different than the primary hole. I was planning on doing that. I read the bill 881 that was passed and it seems that is allowable ??? I'm confused. So I want to have two units on one lot. One ADU dedicated to me while I'm in town and the primary be the STR for the year.. is there a size requirement for the land if I go your route. Thanks for being so helpful. I'm going buys trying to read all this from zoning etc.

Just chiming in to say that all of what @John D. said seems accurate to me, except High Desert Water District quoted us $50-$100 per foot (they said the cost just depends... on what, they couldn't tell me). Another friend said she was quoted $100/ft but I'm not sure which water company that was from. For electric, everything he said sounds right from what I've heard, although you can't just call and get pricing info from Edison. You can only find out what it will cost once you're in the process of getting it set up, which I'll be doing for the first time sometime this year, so I'll def update when I find out for sure. For septic, yes, you need a septic system UNLESS you live in the town of yucca valley - those residents are being forced to pay to have the new sewer system installed for their property. Also, just wanted to suggest maybe doing a search on BP for all of the previous posts/comments about the area and reading those. A lot of these topics have already been covered in other posts, some by me.  

Originally posted by @Jeff Hubert :

Jason! Thanks for getting back to me. So why can't I rent the adu to someone different than the primary hole. I was planning on doing that. I read the bill 881 that was passed and it seems that is allowable ??? I'm confused. So I want to have two units on one lot. One ADU dedicated to me while I'm in town and the primary be the STR for the year.. is there a size requirement for the land if I go your route. Thanks for being so helpful. I'm going buys trying to read all this from zoning etc.

So Bill 881 is the state-wide measure regarding ADUs in California which made it easier to push ADU permitting through the approval process which is must-read research material regarding ADUs so that's great you've studied that. San Bernardino County also came out with an STR ordinance which speaks directly to ADUs being used for STR use. You can read about the local ordinance at the link below:

https://cms.sbcounty.gov/lus/C...


Basically, if looking to rent out the ADU on a property that is less than 2 acres, the owner or representative of the owner must be on the property during the entire length of your guest's stay. Anything over 2 acres and the owner does not have to be present.

Also, each structure you're looking to rent out will need it's own permit and the calls that I've had with county reps have all said that SB County is not issuing multiple STR permits on the same lot.

So if looking to get a 5 acre parcel that has let's say a main house, ADU, and junior ADU, you would be applying to get one STR permit for the entire property.

Originally posted by @Annie Johnson :

I am also looking into STR market in JT. Would love to connect with more people doing this. I have a lot of questions. Do you use Airdna often? Is it a tool I should invest in? For Jeff Hubert's question- I have found emailing the city's planner for community development can answer those types of questions and it really depends on the lot and size and where it is in my experience.

https://www.yucca-valley.org/o...

Hi Annie, I was just in Edmonds, WA during the holidays! I'm originally from Seattle and have family in the area. Edmonds is absolutely beautiful.

Airdna is great. I use it for market statistics/trends and rental income estimates. Mashadvisor.com is another good one to use but I am using Airdna right now. 

Jason can't thank you enough for all the info.  Getting a larger parcel of land and still be able to only rent it to one group is definitely not the way I wanted to go.  I just bought my ticket to go there on Saturday for a few days to see exactly what I'll be dealing with.  I'll definitely take your advice and visit the city planner too!!!   Thank you, Jason.

Jeff all good. Depending on your target market, you may be able to get away with a property on less land. Plenty of successful STRs in town too. Good luck when you're down here and make sure to call the city planner to see if they are accepting in-person appointments right now during COVID.

Great, thorough info @Kristi Allain@Jason Kudo . This thread is everything I love about BP - basic questions getting absolutely brilliant and well researched answers from pro's in the field.

Definitely wishing I'd pulled the trigger on a STR in Joshua tree when we were considering it back in 2017. It has a lot of the draws - close city center, great tourist traffic, good weather, reasonably inexpensive property (although it sounds like that changing).

Our STRs and AirBnB's here in Washington State are booking up like crazy as well - especially those with cabin / forest vibes. I'm excited to see how WFH culture changes and grows the STR industry here in WA and elsewhere...

Thanks @Michael Haas . Prices in JT were definitely much friendlier in 2017.

Congrats on your STRs and AirBnBs in WA State!! May I ask where they are? I'm originally from Seattle and most of my family is still there and I'm definitely keeping my eye on the STR market up there.

@Jason Kudo @Kristi Allain  do you know what YoY appreciation Joshua Tree has seen in the last couple years?

Jason - the STR rental market up here is still very strong, especially for "getaway" properties with Work From Home amenities. We have a STR way out in Homer, AK, and three closer to home in King County, WA: A rustic West Seattle cabin on stilts near the beach, a North Beacon Hill studio, and a partially off-grid cabin in the woods in Scenic, WA (past Skokomish, 10 minutes from Stevens Pass Ski area). The Scenic Cabin has been booked solid with lots of local post-COVID Seattle travelers.