El Dorado County Board of Supervisors expected to adopt VHR regulations
On the heels of South Lake Tahoe’s contentious vacation home rental ordinances, El Dorado County is looking to expand its own regulations to restrict disruptive short-term renter behavior.
Pending the second reading required for ordinances and board approval on June 5, Ordinance 5085 would extend vacation home rental regulations in the unincorporated Lake Tahoe Basin to vacation home rentals in all unincorporated areas of the county. El Dorado County supervisors approved the ordinance’s first reading at their May 22 meeting.
According to the county Board of Supervisors website, staff created a revised ordinance after direction from the board on Jan. 22. District 4 Supervisor Michael Ranalli and District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel serve on an ad hoc committee on the issue, reviewing other local regulations and their effects.
Supervisors met in South Lake Tahoe in early May to discuss the changes.
A written statement from county spokeswoman Carla Hass and County Counsel Michael Coccizzi said the changes came in response to concerns from community members, while still trying to respect rentals’ value within local tourism.
Besides the expansion to include unincorporated areas within the county, the new ordinance would require an inspection before a rental permit is issued Anyone other than registered occupants would have to leave the premises at 10 p.m. until 8 a.m.
Similar to city policies in South Lake Tahoe, the updated county ordinance would require exterior signs on the rental that includes the rental permit number, the name and number of a 24-hour local contact, the maximum number of occupants allowed and the maximum number of vehicles to be parked on the premises.
It would prohibit outdoor hot tub or spa usage between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and require rentals within the Lake Tahoe Basin to provide bear-proof trash cans.
The new regulation also would raise fines to $500 for the first violation, $750 for the second and $1,000 for the third, all within 18-month periods. Fines are still aimed at owners as of Tuesday’s meeting, but Sue Hennike of the county Chief Administrative Office said staff is working on readjusting that to connect irresponsible activity to offenders.
Owners already operating will have one year to comply with changes, Hennike said. Those wishing to obtain a vacation home rental permit will be held to the ordinance once it goes into effect.
Of all the proposed changes, signs seemed to generate the most discussion at the May 22 meeting. Ranalli said improvements to signs were necessary, especially in providing a contact person for neighbors to turn to if there’s a problem.
But given some rentals’ secluded locations on large properties with long driveways, Ranalli worried about criminal activity if there was notice of a potentially empty home with few neighbors to watch it.
District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl expressed concern over the effects of signs on landowners’ privacy rights as well.
One vacation home rental owner, Dan Gonzales, addressed the board with his concerns about signs requirement that could invite potential criminals to his property.
“I think we could do a lot of things to get around it,” Gonzales said, offering other ideas like mailing materials to neighbors letting them know of the rental and an emergency contact in a more private method than a sign.
“You could charge an extra 50 cents for postage when we do our annual permits, send out contact info to neighbors and get around this whole thing,” Gonzales said.
Hennike — echoing previous comments made by Novasel and Ranalli — said this ordinance was the first step in a larger revamp of regulations, containing “changes narrow in scope” designed to encourage compliance.
“The structure of the ordinance hasn’t changed much,” she said. “I think it could really use complete restructuring and overhaul.”
The statement from Coccozzi and Hass did not speculate as to which specific ordinance changes may be down the road. It did say the county will consider other ways to address noise, traffic, overcrowding and public safety concerns after talking with all stakeholders.