El Dorado supervisors approve 1st reading of amended VHR ordinance

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — An amended vacation home rental ordinance for El Dorado County that has been five years in the works is one step closer to being implemented.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the first reading that includes a clustering policy where VHRs are not allowed within 500 feet of each other, measured property line to property line.

Supervisors have been putting pieces together for the amended ordinance, including placing a cap of 900 in Nov. 2020 for the Tahoe basin, which is about 10% of the total homes in the area.

At that time, there were only 720 active VHRs in the Tahoe area. Less than a year later, 900 permits have been issued and there is a waiting list that includes approximately 85 property owners.

Many of those on the waiting list are longtime VHR owners that felt they were caught off guard when the new policy started taking shape and the county changed the way they issued permits.

In Dec. 2020, the county changed to where it issued VHR permits before a VHR business license, which apparently led to some misunderstanding.

Several VHR owners, including one that said he had rented a property in Tahoe since the mid 90s, asked the board to reconsider approving the ordinance and made pleas saying they were not aware of the procedure change and when they went to address it, there were no more available permits.

Other public commenters felt the buffer is not a solution and a couple of others wanted the board to move forward with ordinance.

An Airbnb official also commented and said the company is opposed to the ordinance and said some buffers have been taken to court in other areas.

The board listened to the lengthy public comments, addressed a few questions and seemed to want to try and satisfy those approximately 50 VHR owners, but County Counsel David Livingston said that a hard cap of 900 was set and suggested the board not “legislate on the fly.”

The board directed staff to come back with some possible options to try and solve the issue for those VHR owners.

District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel told the Tribune that if those longtime VHR owners paid their TOT and were making a genuine effort to get permits, that the county will try to figure out something to take care of them.

After the board discussion, Novasel made a motion that was quickly seconded and then the board voted 5-0 to advance the ordinance.

“I’m a strong supporter of making sure we have neighborhood compatibility,” Novasel said. “There needs to be a balance. I want people to to feel part of a neighborhood.”

The second reading will take place at the board’s next meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31.

If approved, the proposed ordinance would go into effect 30 days following final passage.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that supervisors placed a cap in Nov. 2020, less than a year ago.

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