Council approves vacation home rental amendment
An amendment to South Lake Tahoe’s Vacation Home Rental (VHR) ordinance passed in a 4-0 vote on Tuesday.
Councilman Tom Davis recused himself, citing his partnership role in Tahoe Key Resorts.
The VHR amendment adds measures to regulate noise, parking and institutes a “good neighbor” policy when people apply for new VHR licenses.
A few residents pulled the item from the consent agenda prior to approval to address some concerns regarding the amendment, including safety, development and how it would be applied to multi-residential properties like apartments.
The new amendments regulate noise after 10 p.m., the use of hot tubs after 10 p.m., more stringently define contact information, occupancy limits institute “good neighbor policies” for people looking at vacation rentals to inform nearby residents. The amendment also imposes a fine structure for people who violate the new provisions: violators can be fined up to $2,000 after the fourth violation, while the property owner faces a $1,000 fine in addition to the city revoking the VHR permit after the fourth violation.
Resident Susanne Glimstad said that her family has a vacation rental property that they use for their own enjoyment, but rents it out on occasion.
Glimstad’ was concerned that required signage notifying people that a house was a vacation rental might encourage people to break in.
Her other concern was the occupancy requirements that the ordinance now dictates. The revised ordinance limits the number of occupancies based on the number of rooms.
City Manager Nancy Kerry noted that signage is already part of the VHR application process.
Mayor Hal Cole added that occupancy requirements above and beyond the city’s requirements fell to the owner.
“Occupancy can be more restrictive than the code,” Cole told Glimstad.
Resident Ed Mosur raised the question of multi-dwelling structures like duplexes and apartments, and that they shouldn’t be included as VHRs.
City Attorney Thomas Watson said there was no basis to establish apartments differently. A property owner could use an apartment in a unit for that purpose if desired.
If regular tenants have problems or concerns related to that problem, they have established private options available to them.
Mosur also questioned the need of required contact information for people within a 30-mile-radius of the rental. Watson said that measure was build into the original VHR code.
Joshua Priou with Lake Tahoe Accommodations questioned the possible revenues that came from the new, associated fee schedules could exceed the expenses needed to enforce it.
“The way it’s written is that revenues should not exceed the amount it should pay for,” Priou said.
Watson, the city attorney, noted that the analysis conducted during the VHR planning process took into consideration there may be a number of VHRs that drop out of the program, which could affect revenue. Some owners who used their homes only as occasional VHRs might drop out while those who made it a business practice would continue through.
It also accounted for staff time not directly associated with the program, such as legal and planning staff.
“It’s speculative to say at what the revenue should be,” Watson said.
Mark Salmon with South Lake Tahoe Real Estate cautioned that the amended ordinance may have development implications.
He said for many builders, it takes a lot of time to get allocations to build in the Tahoe area.
“These builders prepare for four years in advance,” Salmon said. How the property is used by the eventual owners can affect the value of those land acquisitors.
A more prudent course would be to look at noise abatement ordinances and a committee with developers to look at options all while contractors clear out their inventory.
Salmon noted additionally as someone who helped coordinate the annual Come Up For Air soccer tournaments, which occurs in conjunction with youth basketball tournament, VHRs make a difference. With 200 teams coming in, he said it brings in a lot of revenue for the city’s economy.
“We simply do not have enough hotel rooms to accommodate all these families, so some of them do rent homes,” Salmon said. “I think this would turn away a lot of people.
Prior to voting, Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Davis asked it if was prudent for builders to consult with neighbors three years in advance prior to construction of possible vacation home rentals.
Kerry, the city manager, recommended that should be the case.
“Developers should know in advance what their neighbors think of that and whether that might be of a concern,” Kerry said.
The council adopted the ordinance, and in a separate vote, a resolution setting the fee schedule. Both will take effect 30 days from the adoption.
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