Douglas County VHR opponents file ballot initiative

Kurt Hildebrand / The Record-Courier

STATELINE, Nev. – Douglas County’s vacation home rental ordinance made national news after Lake Tahoe residents complained that President Joe Biden was renting billionaire Tom Steyer’s Glenbrook mansion for a vacation.

County Code Enforcement indicated that it couldn’t substantiate a violation, which might have cost Steyer $20,000, and closed the case.

Organizers have six months to gather 4,388 signatures to get a petition to ban vacation home rentals in residential zoning at Tahoe Township on the ballot.

Carson Valley residents Jeanne Shizuru and Nicholas Maier were joined by Kingsbury resident Leonard R. Kyle, Glenbrook resident Janine T. Nyre and Stateline resident Phillip Schloss as the signatories on the petition.

Shizuru spoke during public comment at last week’s Vacation Home Rental Advisory Board meeting, saying the rentals were ungovernable and that gathering signatures at Lake Tahoe should be “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

According to the petition to amend the county code, it would phase out rentals in residentially zoned areas in Tahoe Township over a period of three years.

“No vacation rental activities, nor permits will be issued in residentially zoned areas in Douglas County Nevada after Dec. 31, 2027.

The petition excludes commercial zoning at Lake Tahoe, which includes the mixed use commercial on lower Kingsbury.

“Douglas County has failed to adequately address resident complaints involving vacation home rentals that have negatively affected the character and livability of our neighborhoods,” according to the initiative.

Organizers said that based on the financial effect of Measure T in South Lake Tahoe, eliminating VHRs in the neighborhoods wouldn’t cost anything.

The program costs more than $500,000 to maintain and enforce the county code, which is raised from vacation rental owner permit fees.

The county is required under state law to evaluate whether there is a cost once the petition is completed.

If successful, county commissioners could either amend the ordinance or forward it to voters.

While Shizuru and company are gathering signatures, members of the advisory board will be working to recommend limitations on VHR density within Tahoe’s separate communities.

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