City Council changes vacation-rental rules
August 5, 2008
Debate over vacation home-rental ordinances hasn’t checked out of the city yet.
The South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday moved forward with changes to the city’s vacation-rental ordinances, including restrictions on overnight parking and the use of rental homes for weddings, receptions and large parties.
Those changes will come back to the council for final approval Aug. 19.
The council also discussed requiring vacation rentals to be identified with a sign, and possibly adding an officer to city staff to enforce the ordinances. Those issues will come back to the council for further review at the next meeting.
Councilman Ted Long was the sole vote against banning weddings, parties and receptions at the rental homes.
Long said that if vacation rentals aren’t allowed to have these events, it’s a double standard. As a property owner, Long said his daughter could get married in his backyard, but vacation rentals aren’t allowed to host weddings.
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“This is getting away from the real issue. Let’s police the community in a proper way,” Long said. “We should enforce the laws uniformly, not single this group out.”
Long said weddings are different from frat party-type gatherings, and the city has laws in place to deal with the latter.
A few vacation-rental owners at the meeting expressed frustration with the revised ordinance.
“We try and decipher the ordinances and stay within the reasonable law,” said Mary Love, a Santa Cruz resident who rents out the vacation home she owns in South Lake Tahoe.
Love would rent her property to a youth group but is unsure if that is against the ordinance. She already rents to a scrapbooking group from Minden and wasn’t clear if that was allowed, either.
It’s hard to follow the rules when the language is vague, Love said.
In addressing overnight parking at vacation rentals, the council voted 3-2 to have overnight-parking rules apply from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., rather than from midnight to 6 a.m. as the ordinance now states. The number of cars that can be parked at a rental is limited during the overnight hours.
Mayor Mike Weber and Long voted against the change, with Long stating that 10 p.m. was too early.
Jim Morris, owner of Lake Tahoe Accommodations, agreed. People still are visiting at 10 p.m.; he said 2 a.m. was more realistic. He suggested the city try out the 2 to 6 a.m. time period.
For the proposed requirement to label vacation rentals with a sign, the council wants to take a look at varying the rules in different neighborhoods.
Some vacation-rental owners objected to a sign requirement.
Greta Hambsch, owner of Accommodation Station Inc., said the mandatory posting of signs designating the property as a vacation rental would put properties at risk for burglaries, vagrants and teens looking to find an empty house to party in.
Police Chief Terry Daniels said there is no data to suggest vacation rentals with signs are targeted any more than other properties in town.
The debate over new rules for vacation rentals surfaced this spring, and council members in June considered temporarily banning the issuance of any new vacation-rental permits or capping the number of vacation rentals in the city. Faced with a public outcry over those proposals, the council instead opted to modify its existing rules for the rentals.