Douglas County vacation home rental debate heading back to Lake Tahoe
August 7, 2018
A proposal to allow vacation housing rentals outside of the Tahoe Township may be resolved at Lake Tahoe.
County commissioners decided to move the current ordinance to Title 20, which provides additional means of enforcement and adds fines for illegal use, Community Development Director Mimi Moss said.
However, commissioners continued the first reading of the ordinance to its Aug. 16 meeting to give staff time to gather data and reach out to residents of the East Fork Township, who would be affected by expansion of the ordinance.
The towns of Minden and Genoa supported the stronger ordinance, but agreed with Douglas County planning commissioners that the ordinance should not be extended to East Fork.
The East Fork Township covers all of Douglas County outside the Tahoe Basin. It includes Carson and Jacks valleys, the Pine Nuts and Topaz Ranch Estates and Lake Topaz.
Douglas implemented vacation rentals permits in 2005 in response to an edict from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
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The county was given six months to create an ordinance.
In 2004, vacation rentals in neighborhoods were considered a serious issue in the Basin, where residents reported 30-40 college students would rent a five-bedroom house for a weekend, setting up beds in the garage.
Nearly 14 years later stories of unbridled parties disturbing Tahoe neighborhoods continue unabated.
Zephyr Knolls GID board member Peter Baskin praised some of the private managers working VHRs when he spoke at the Douglas County Planning Commission in July.
“We live in a fairly small neighborhood of 20 homes, with eight or nine used as vacation rentals,” he said.
Baskins said he believes that some of the residents would see their property values go down depending on who’s rented one of those sites when buyers are there.
“My neighbor has VHRs on either side of his house, and he’s going to have a hard time selling his house,” Baskins said. “(Some do) a really good job. Others are really bad and homeowners who do their own do a shabby job.”
The revision of the ordinance comes as the City of South Lake Tahoe struggles with regulating the rentals.
Moss said there are about 490 permitted rentals in Tahoe Township and the potential for 1,200 more should the ordinance be extended to East Fork.
The county has already been conducting increased safety inspections for the Tahoe rentals and has approved hiring another code enforcement officer to help handle that load.
The new ordinance increases the permit fee for a rental, which is expected to cover the costs of inspections and enforcement.
By moving the ordinance to Title 20, the county will be able to improve enforcement by placing liens on the homes of noncomplying residents to insure fines are paid.
Vacation home rentals pay the same lodging taxes that other hotels and inns do. Currently in order to have a vacation rental in East Fork residents are required to apply for a bed and breakfast, which requires someone to be living on the property.
Commissioners are scheduled to meet at Harrah’s in Stateline.
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