City looks toward tougher laws for vacation rentals |

City looks toward tougher laws for vacation rentals

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Coming off a busy holiday weekend, the city of South Lake Tahoe will try to address the topic of obnoxious vacation-home renters Tuesday with an added twist.

Vacation homes, to some degree, are illegal. Or so it is implied, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s planning area statement.

That’s what subcommittee members looking into drafting a tougher ordinance discovered in their efforts to make vacation home renters more accountable for their actions.

The proposal takes aim at rowdy renters who make a lot of noise, leave strewn garbage, overcrowd living quarters and occupy much of the South Shore’s neighborhoods.

A draft of the proposal will be released from the subcommittee at the public forum.

The subcommittee meeting, on which council members Judy Brown and Hal Cole serve, will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Cole also serves on the TRPA governing board.

The committee’s last meeting in March was lively in itself and created a debate over whether renting out homes as income property follows the letter of the TRPA law. Vacation home rentals is a growing trend on the South Shore.

The city plans to “request from TRPA a redefinition of what a residential unit is,” Brown said Friday.

Residential units can be used as vacation rentals if they meet a list of criteria, TRPA spokeswoman Jill Keller said. The criteria are as follows:

–Short-term rental will not exceed 14 days more than four times a year.

–Rentals don’t cause parking off pavement.

–No disturbance to the land.

–Renters make no excess noise.

In addition, vacation rental signs must be permitted.

Many property management firms rely on vacation home rentals for tourism business, an important part of the South Lake Tahoe economy.

“We recognize this as a significant issue for the community,” Keller said.

Recent studies have shown vacation home rentals constitute 23.6-percent of the revenue generated from overnight stays in the basin.

“From my perspective, it’s illegal and that’s where I’m coming from,” said Tahoe Keys resident Dick Powers, who started the campaign months ago after enduring countless nights of disturbances from his transient neighbors.

Powers, who lives on Aloha Drive, took his problem to the Tahoe Keys Property Owner’s Association before approaching the city, he said.

The renters in the questionable households near Powers were well-behaved over the July 4 holiday, but “the next group could be something different,” he said.

Some claim enforcement represents the key to keeping disturbances in line, but city police officers say they’re already stretched too thin.

Critics contend the process is flawed and in need of an overhaul. In some cases, the violators fail to show up at scheduled court appearances.

City police units respond to about 1,000 related calls a year.

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