City seeks outside help on vacation rentals
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Lake Tahoe staff may seek outside assistance in reigning in privately managed rental properties following direction Tuesday from the City Council.
By a 4-0 vote, the council directed staff to move forward with a request for proposals process seeking a company to assist in enforcing the city’s Vacation Home Rental Program.
Vacation rental by owner properties that are not complying with city codes have been looked to as a way to raise revenue during the city’s most recent struggle to balance its budget.
The city’s general fund is expected to subsidize the vacation rental program this year to the tune of $56,750.
The city would likely be able to stop subsidizing the program with its general fund by ensuring that all vacation rental properties in the city have a valid permit, said the finance director, Christine Vuletich.
Bringing vacation rental properties into compliance is “very, very important,” Vuletich said.
The property manager at Lake Tahoe Accommodations, Joshua Priou, was critical of the city’s search for outside help, saying the city already has the ability to enforce its vacation rental program.
Lake Tahoe Accommodations recently developed a program that tracks occupancy at vacation rental properties at the South Shore, http://www.zozax.com, and has offered it to the city free of charge.
By sending warning letters to properties listed on the site that do not provide legally required permit numbers, the city would be able to increase compliance in the program four times over, Priou said.
The city has only recently began using the website and the council should wait a year and see what results it can achieve before putting out a request for proposals, Priou said.
Councilman Hal Cole said he didn’t see a problem with hiring a company to work on a contingency basis, where they are only paid based on money earned for the city. The city could start generating additional revenue almost immediately with the help of an outside contractor, Cole said.
He also questioned whether city staff would be able to enforce the program without assistance, given recent layoffs.
City Manager Tony O’Rourke was complimentary of http://www.zozax.com, but said Lake Tahoe Accommodations had “not created the mouse trap.” He said the company would be welcome to apply under any request for proposals process.
Also on Tuesday, the council directed staff to continue with changes in how vacation rentals report to the city.
The city will not require the vacation rental by owner properties to submit guest information, as was previously suggested.
Some vacation rental by owner properties had objected to providing guest information, which is not required of rentals managed by property management companies.
Vacation home rentals will still be required to maintain the information and make it available if the city requests an audit.
Councilman Tom Davis recused himself from Tuesday’s discussion because he is a shareholder in Tahoe Keys Resort.
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