City, chamber writing complaints to TRPA |

City, chamber writing complaints to TRPA

The debate over managing vacation home rentals continued Tuesday, with the South Lake Tahoe City Council deciding to send a correspondence to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on the controversial topic.

The council was asked by the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce to sign its own letter asking the TRPA to abandon outlawing the rental policy in planning areas not zoned for tourism accommodation units. The South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association signed off on the chamber’s last week.

“I’ve never seen an issue unite the lake more than this one,” chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace said.

The chamber sent out messages to its 800 members, and 100 faxes were returned, with many opposed to the policy.

Michelle Van Sickle, who works for Tahoe Rental Connection and owns a vacation home, told the council that eliminating vacation home rentals won’t help the affordable housing issue.

Some disagree.

“I support TRPA. We have people buying up units and converting them to vacation home rentals, profiting from the city and destroying our neighborhoods,” said Jim Foff, who runs Fantasy Inn.

After a lengthy discussion, the city decided on a 4-0 vote to draft its own letter that would express its view of TRPA weighing in on the homes being used that way. Councilman Tom Davis abstained, as he co-owns Tahoe Keys Resort — a company that manages vacation homes.

The council agreed it would review that letter, along with the chamber’s, at its next meeting Sept. 2.

The council members may end up endorsing both.

“We have specific reasons why we object to TRPA doing this,” Councilwoman Kathay Lovell said, joining many in citing the infringement of private property rights.

The TRPA prompted much dissent in the real estate industry and business community when it attached the approval of a new residential building permit to a declaration the homeowner would not rent out the structure as a vacation home rental.

It requested the city enforce the same policy — which TRPA has had in its regional plan since 1987. The city declined, but it pledged to work with the TRPA to balance the two public agencies’ interests.

Since then, the regulatory agency has pledged to replace that permit language by a letter to be sent to the homeowners.

This letter has not been written yet, TRPA spokeswoman Susanne Bentley said Tuesday afternoon.

“We are evaluating the role of a letter in the larger picture of addressing the full issue,” she said.

Input will be given for the letter at the TRPA’s next Local Government Committee meeting slated for 9 a.m. Sept. 5.

Deputy Director Carl Hasty re-emphasized its stance in trying to address nuisance, environmental and affordable housing issues.

“Residential allocations are for a family residence. Anyone using an allocation for a tourist accommodation and not a primary or second home should be applying for a tourist accommodation,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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