Douglas County to discuss vacation rental task force report
STATELINE, Nev. — A task force on vacation home rentals is recommending capping the number at 725 in Tahoe Township and recommending delaying expansion of the rentals into East Fork, according to a 522-page report being reviewed by county commissioners on Thursday.
In his summary, County Manager Patrick Cates said regulation of the rentals at Lake Tahoe has been a challenge.
“COVID-19 restrictions in California resulted in a surge of visitors this summer, leading to an increase in resident complaints regarding VHRs,” he wrote. “It is important to implement changes to this program before the board considers expansion to the rest of the county.”
Douglas County code doesn’t permit vacation home rentals in East Fork, which includes all of the county outside of the Lake Tahoe basin. Douglas County does allow bed and breakfasts with a permit, but the owner of the property must be onsite when there are guests under those rules.
Cates acknowledged that there are unpermitted vacation rentals operating throughout the county.
“It is important the whole county be brought into a regulatory framework,” he said.
The task force is recommending a three-tiered permitting system.
While the task force did not recommend mandatory bear boxes to handle trash from vacation rentals, Cates is suggesting the county implement measures similar to South Lake Tahoe’s.
“Residents generally know how to live in Bear Country, but visitors often do not,” Cates said. Bear boxes would limit the harmful impacts on wildlife of improper trash handling by visitors.”
Task force recommendations include creating a VHR appeals and advisory board, developing a compliance program.
Cates said that managing VHRs across the county will require additional staff, which will have to be paid for by operators of the rentals.
The proliferation of vacation rentals, thanks in part to online rental apps like Airbnb has become a controversial topic for residents at Lake Tahoe.
A grass roots ballot measure sought to limit the number and location of rentals in South Lake Tahoe passed in 2018, around when Douglas determined that a task force was necessary to explore the issue.
Douglas County has allowed vacation rentals at Lake Tahoe since 2005, at the behest of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The total number of permitted vacation rentals in Douglas County is 608, with another 135 operating at Tahoe without a permit. Around two dozen unpermitted rentals are operating outside of the basin.
Vacation rentals are required to pay room taxes, which are expected to bring in around $1.9 million this year.
An average vacation rental permit generates between $25,000 and $30,000 for the owner with average room rates of $372.
For more information, visit the county’s VHR page.
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