Changes to vacation-rental rules approved |

Changes to vacation-rental rules approved

Elaine Goodman

After more lively debate on the issue of vacation-home rentals, the City Council on Tuesday approved several changes to its rules for regulating the rentals.

Restrictions on overnight parking and occupancy at vacation-home rentals will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ” two hours longer than the midnight-to-6 a.m. period now stated in the ordinance.

And renters of vacation homes will be notified that they cannot use the residence for commercial activities, including wedding receptions and large parties.

The change to the overnight hours, and the restriction on uses at the vacation rentals, will take effect in 30 days.

Beginning Nov. 1, owners of vacation-home rentals will be required to post signs on the homes that state the maximum number of occupants and number of vehicles allowed. The sign also will include a phone number and e-mail address where someone can contact police with a complaint about the rental.

That same information included on the signs will be listed on a city Web site for all vacation rentals in the city.

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The council also voted to hire a new community-service officer who will respond to complaints about the vacation rentals and enforce the rules. Permit fees for those renting their homes to vacationers will increase to cover the cost of the new position.

The meeting drew a crowd to Council Chambers, some who complained that vacation-home rentals were disrupting their neighborhoods and others who pointed to their economic benefits. Wilbur Twining, a garbage collector, showed the council a stack of receipts that were thrown away from a vacation rental, documenting $8,700 that the vacationers spent at Lake Tahoe in one week.

On the issue of signs, some argued that such labeling of the rentals would encourage burglaries. City staff will collect data to see if that turns out to be the case.

Others favored the signs, saying they essentially are a contract with the neighborhood to follow the vacation-rental rules.

Councilman Ted Long voted against most of the new provisions but supported hiring a new community service officer. Long has argued since the issue of vacation-home rentals came up this spring that new rules aren’t needed ” just enforcement of existing laws.

Mayor Mike Weber abstained from voting on many of the items.

Councilman Bill Crawford, who previously had suggested a cap on the number of vacation rentals in the city (an idea that the council abandoned), said the council was protecting the peace and quiet that the community deserves.

The generally polite debate heated up midafternoon when Jim Morris of Lake Tahoe Accommodations lambasted Councilwoman Kathay Lovell, accusing her of waging a vendetta against a vacation rental near her home. When Morris did not heed Weber’s instructions to stop the verbal attack, Weber abruptly called a recess, and Morris’ microphone was turned off.

Lovell afterward disputed Morris’ contention that the vacation rentals were in her neighborhood when she moved there. The homes were occupied by full-time residents when she moved there in 1991, she said.

— The council approved changing the site for ballfields called for in Measure S, which voters approved in 2000. The original site at Lake Tahoe Community College is too small, officials say; the new site is the Little League Park on Rufus Allen Boulevard. Voters must approve the change of location, which is expected to appear on the ballot sometime in 2009.

— The 56-Acre Project, a plan for improving public land and facilities in the Rufus Allen Boulevard area, now has a new name. The project now is known as Lakeview Commons. The new name is intended to sound more appealing as funding is sought for the project.

Although not everyone was thrilled with the moniker ” resident John Cefalu said it sounded like an urban-renewal project in a major metropolitan area ” officials said it can be changed later. The permit application for the piece of the project in the El Dorado Beach area has been submitted to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.