City puts fines in place for shelter in place violators; votes down eviction protection for businesses
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After a lengthy discussion, the South Lake Tahoe City Council voted to approve administrative citations and fines for violations of the shelter in place order.
Most of the conversation centered on vacation home rentals and second homeowners.
Interim Police Chief Shannon Laney said his officers have been checking in on the more than 1,400 VHRs. If they see that the home is occupied, they are calling the owners to see if they are occupying the property or not.
Last weekend, they checked on 151 VHRs, 83 were occupied and 39 of those were owner occupied.
There has been concern from the community that enforcement is difficult and Laney did admit it’s difficult to police all 1,400 VHRs on top of regular police duties.
“Some of the members of the community have taken it upon themselves to help with enforcement and it’s become a bit of a problem,” Laney said, reminding people that driving around looking for VHR violators is a violation of Gov. Newsom’s order.
The discussion also centered around second homeowners. Councilmember Cody Bass encouraged the city to come down on second homeowners who are sheltering in place in Tahoe.
“In these unprecedented times, we need to stand up and make unprecedented moves,” Bass said, adding this would only be a temporary move to stop the spread of the virus.
Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Wallace fought back against that, stating the city couldn’t tell homeowners what to do with their own properties.
“It was bad judgement for them to come here but it’s their homes,” Wallace said.
Assistant City Attorney Beverly Roxas pointed out that the governor’s order states no nonessential travel so if anyone comes to their second home now, they’ve violated that order.
The police will continue to monitor the VHRs but it is nearly impossible to track second homes.
The council voted unanimously to approve the citations and fines.
The council again brought forward the idea of a moratorium on commercial evictions. Bass recused himself from the discussion because he owns commercial property.
The council needed a unanimous vote to pass it but Wallace voted no. She said property owners are struggling too and this would unfairly hurt their ability to survive during the crisis. The rest of the council strongly disagreed with Wallace, saying small business owners would be hurt more than property owners. In the end, Wallace stuck to her original opinion.
The council will also be forming two subcommittees, one with councilmembers Brooke Laine and Wallace to address short-term economic recovery for the city and one with councilmembers Devin Middlebrook and Bass to focus on long-term economic stability for the city.
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