Yes Custom A at La Quinta. It has a connection with education.

La Quinta residents should vote yes on Measure A. Short-term vacation rentals (STVR) have a devastating effect on young families by reducing housing availability. Many small towns with STVRs are seeing their housing supply reduced, sending rents skyrocketing for full-time residents and out of reach for many families with children.

STVRs are not eliminated by Measure A. Instead, their expansive growth in quiet, peaceful neighborhoods is contained by restricting them to established commercial areas. Many other cities are now scrambling to control the excessive growth of STVRs. Even Riverside County supervisors are filing numerous complaints.

Housing affordability has a direct impact on teacher recruitment and retention. New homes become unaffordable for a beginning teacher. The reduced availability of rental properties further increases the cost of living. Energetic teachers who are just starting their careers cannot afford to live in the community, which increases the shortage of teachers. It is important that teachers live in the community where they practice their profession. It allows a stronger involvement in the education of children.

School districts large and small are having difficulty recruiting teachers due to the higher cost of living and especially the higher cost of affordable housing. The result is that many classes, especially at the secondary level, are being cut due to the shortage of teachers. At other grade levels, classes are increasingly crowded.

According to the California School Board Association, many of the 300,000 public school teachers cannot afford to live in the communities where they work, forcing them to travel long distances or excluding them from the education system altogether. Some school districts have had to provide housing through mortgage disbursement assistance, build housing for their employees, and even place proposals and bonding measures on the ballot to fund affordable housing for teachers.

Not only will teachers be difficult to attract and retain, but the same is true for school bus drivers, maintenance staff, technicians, cafeteria workers and landscapers. Many other school districts are already experiencing these shortages, and the quality of public education is declining.

The Desert Sands Unified School District, which encompasses the city of La Quinta, has lost more than 2,000 students over the past four years. Fewer students drive fewer state dollars into the community, and the result will be the loss of millions of dollars for our local schools. A reduced student population increases the likelihood of more school closures. STVRs speed up this process.

Families are the engine of communities. They fill needed jobs and support local businesses. Their children participate in a variety of educational programs as they progress through school, fill our local colleges, and advance in their careers.

It’s not just schools that are suffering from rising housing prices. Local businesses are unable to find qualified workers to fill needed positions. This is especially true for resort communities, like La Quinta, that depend on tourism.

Protect our communities, our schools and especially the future of our youngest citizens. Vote yes on measure A.

Gary Tomack.

Gary Tomak is a former school board president for the Desert Sands Unified School District and a resident of La Quintaa. Email him at [email protected]

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