Commissioners change stance on rent control |

Commissioners change stance on rent control

Capping off an ongoing battle staged at the end of Kahle Drive, rent control is out the door for mobile home parks in the Tahoe Township of Douglas County.

The board of commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to surrender its proposed rent control ordinance initiated a month ago, when tenants of the Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park made the appeal for relief from the threat of rising rents.

New park owner South Shore Tahoe LLC notified tenants that rents would be raised by 20 percent as of March, and residents feared more increases would be coming until they are forced out of their homes.

Park co-owner Robert Mecay of Incline Village met with commissioners Kelly Kite and Steve Weissinger Nov. 26 to hash out a compromise to rent control.

The proposal provides a waiver to future increases for those over 65 and the disabled whose cost of living expenses exceeds half the tenant’s monthly household income. For those with costs that surpass the income by 35 percent, the tenant would pay 3 percent of the increase. This amounts to at least $100 a month.

Rental rates and increases vary by lot size and location for the 155 spaces. As of March, rents for one of the last bastions of affordable housing in Tahoe will range from $642 to $692.

Tenant Jan Christensen’s rent will go from $547 to $657 next spring.

“These people go against their promises,” a tearful Christensen addressed the commissioners during the break after the vote.

“There’s a mixed bag of people who need help and those who don’t. We wanted to protect the ones who needed it most,” Kite explained to the assembly of unhappy and angry tenants who gathered at the meeting.

Most tenants are low-income. Many are seniors.

The park owner also agreed to cap water charges and implement no additional rent increases for a year “at the earliest,” the Dec. 6 letter states, as long as their “application to redevelop the park is nearing completion.”

South Shore Tahoe LLC’s attorney, Lew Feldman, declared the March rent increase is necessary to offset the 17-acre park’s operating expenses and costs incurred from the $12.6 million acquisition a year ago.

But Steve Ray, a Stateline Homeowner’s Association board member, took issue with the process that led to the compromise and held to trying to protect the tenants.

“I’m disappointed the commissioners apparently had their minds made up after meeting with the owners before we had a chance to respond,” Ray said. “These people plan on fighting for their homes with everything they’ve got.”

He added that rent control protects the tenants from “unbridled greed.”

Ray, who requested a temporary moratorium on rent increases, said he’s unsure whether a legal challenge would come from the action.

The commissioners shared their notion that the proposal represented an adequate compromise that would keep the county out of a legal quandary in adopting the ordinance.

“We’ve done everything in our power (to help you),” Weissinger said. “We’ve gone the distance for you. We know in our hearts rent control would be worse for you than you could imagine.”

In other business:

n The county commissioners approved a transit plan to reduce Bus Plus hours of operation at the lake to 12 hours starting at 7:15 a.m. as a way to save costs.

At the same time, the new route — to go into effect in January — will include stops at Trendwest Resort, Lake Vista Apartments and the 7-Eleven, both on Kingsbury Grade.

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

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