Douglas County OKs new VHR rules
The approval of a revised vacation home rental ordinance on Thursday may satisfy a federal judge enough to lift an order preventing parts of it from being implemented, but it may not be sufficient for those who challenged the new rules back in July.
VHR owners’ attorney Rick Campbell said the county made a good start but that the changes to the ordinance haven’t gone far enough.
“My clients have constitutional rights, too,” Campbell said, pointing out that the county declared Friday Constitution Day. “If we can work together, we can resolve all these issues and get an ordinance that works for everybody.”
Campbell specifically questioned a requirement in the ordinance that prevents residents from holding more than one permit and the 600-permit cap.
In addition to approving the revised ordinance, the county also appointed five members to the Vacation Home Rental Advisory Committee.
Gardnerville resident Patti Graf will join Michael Sloan, Lauren Romain, Keith Byer and Mickie Hempler on the VHR advisory committee.
The committee has yet to meet after its make-up was challenged by U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones.
Originally, the panel consisted entirely of Lake Tahoe residents, but the judge said limiting two seats on the board to VHR permit holders unfairly balanced the board.
In an effort to resolve the issue, the county changed the make-up of the committee to include an East Fork Township resident. Since vacation home rentals are prohibited in Douglas County outside of Tahoe Township, the fifth member is essentially a non-VHR permit holder.
Kingsbury Grade General Improvement District Chairwoman Natalie Yanish, who served on the VHR task force, said she believes there’s much for the new committee to do besides hearing appeals of fines for unpermitted vacation rentals.
“A lot of the language in the ordinance is still vague,” she said. “I hope we have the advisory board not just basically looking at individual complaints, but a higher level of policy making.”
Under the ordinance, the advisory committee will return to commissioners in six months with suggestions for further revising the ordinance.
“Nothing we have done here has been arbitrary,” Assistant County Manager Jenifer Davidson told commissioners. “All of it has been carefully considered.”
She said the advisory committee will gather data while it operates to help improve the ordinance.
She thanked commissioners for not revising the ordinance further.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to uphold a $5,000 fine for a Kingsbury resident for operating a vacation rental without a permit.
Once the committee is in place, it will hear violation appeals. With a revised fine of up to $20,000 for operating a vacation rental without a permit.
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With a season-dictated, tourist-based economy, the North Lake Tahoe workforce faced longstanding affordable housing issues long before Zoom’s subscription fees replaced Bay Area commuters’ bridge tolls.