South Lake Tahoe City Council asks for report on VHR initiative |

South Lake Tahoe City Council asks for report on VHR initiative

Paul Braaten said he signed the petition because he believes VHRs are to blame for the lack of available housing in town.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

An initiative phasing out vacation home rentals in residential areas will assuredly head to the ballot, but first City Council wants a little more information on its impact.

Council moved Tuesday to commission a report on the citizen-driven initiative, which successfully garnered enough valid resident signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Per the election laws, council is essentially required to either adopt the initiative or put it to a vote of the people. A third option allows council to commission a report on the impact before adopting it or putting it to a vote.

Per a city memo, the report can explore a range of topics, including financial and land-use impact, and more. While the law allows for up to 30 days to complete the report, city staff will be working on an abbreviated schedule.

The county has set a deadline of July 4 for initiatives to be placed on the November ballot. However, City Clerk Susan Alessi said she successfully negotiated an extension of that deadline to July 18. The extension is critical for several reasons: It will allow council to consider an limited report on the initiative and it also could open the door for two more initiatives to get on the ballot.

One of those also deals with VHRs, and would lock in the city’s current cap while strengthening some regulations.

The other initiative would address cannabis regulations in the city.

Backers behind each of those initiatives have submitted signatures and are awaiting verification.

Assuming each has the minimum number of signatures verified, City Council presumably would put all three initiatives on the ballot at its July 17 meeting.

In discussing whether or not to request the report, Councilmember Austin Sass asked his fellow councilmembers if commissioning a report for one initiative but not the others — the city would not have enough time to compile reports on those and bring them to council in time to have the initiatives put on the November ballot — could inadvertently tilt the scale in one direction or another.

Mayor Wendy David said council ought to do what is best for the city’s residents, and putting more factual information before residents would be the best thing to do. As for the timing and not having reports for the other two initiatives, David said council was not responsible for the time crunch — that was up to those seeking to get their initiative on the ballot.

Ultimately council voted 3-0 (Tom Davis recused himself and Jason Collin was not present for the meeting).

A statement from Peggy Bourland of the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group — the group behind the VHR phase out initiative — said they look forward to an impartial analysis.

“Election code 9212 gives the legislative body up to 30 days to study the impacts of any  measure. We look forward to the through and impartial findings of the study before it is placed on the November ballot.”

Noting the limited time, interim City Manager Dirk Brazil noted the report will not be as comprehensive as city staff would like — resembling more of a staff report.

“We’re going to do some sort of analysis,” he said.

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