El Dorado County VHR meeting rescheduled due to overcapacity
A meeting where El Dorado County Supervisors were poised to discuss changes to the vacation home rental ordinance was adjourned early due to overcapacity.
On Thursday, Feb. 1, county supervisors convened in the South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers to consider “conceptual changes” to the code governing VHRs, such as permitting, violations, occupancy, enforcement, parking and more.
Around 15 minutes into the meeting the South Lake Tahoe fire marshal alerted county officials that the room was over capacity. The chambers has a max occupancy of 112 people, but the marshal counted over 150, not including the groups of people waiting out in the lobby unable to fit in the room or hear the meeting. The meeting was not live streamed online or to the TVs in the lobby.
Supervisor Michael Ranalli, whose district includes Apple Hill, said they had a “public safety imperative” and “little choice but to reschedule.”
A date for the rescheduled meeting has not yet been set, but county officials said they would select a larger venue to hold the meeting in the Lake Tahoe area.
“I apologize,” said Supervisor Sue Novasel, the representative for the Lake Tahoe portions of unincorporated El Dorado County. “We underestimated this obviously.”
Novasel learned earlier that day that a legal review by the California Fair Political Practices Commission had cleared her of any potential conflict of interest. An anonymous person filed a complaint with the CFFPC alleging a possible conflict of interest stemming from the fact that Novasel’s husband deals in mortgage loans for small businesses, mainly contractors building homes.
The mood was heated at the Lake Tahoe Airport, with many attendees frustrated about not being able to squeeze into the jam-packed meeting room to hear what was being said on a subject that has divided the community. On one side of the issue, fed-up residents complaining of noise, trash and parking associated with the short-term rentals; in the other, VHR owners and Realtors concerned about the future of an industry they depend on.
The supervisors were not going to adopt any changes to the VHR ordinance at the meeting, but they could have directed staff to work with the county’s ad hoc VHR committee to bring a revised ordinance forward at a future meeting.
A staff report outlined the proposed amendments that were to be discussed at the meeting. They included removing the warning for violations, increasing fines and revoking permits for three violations within 18-months; removing the “best efforts” clause for owner and occupancy compliance; and requiring signs outside the rentals.
Additionally, the report recommends establishing a maximum capacity of overnight occupants and visiting guests after 10 p.m., implementing pre-permit inspections, and updating the code on bear-resistant trash receptacles.
The recommendations also call for expanding the VHR code to the entire county, where approximately 100 VHRs operate outside the Lake Tahoe area, and transferring all VHR responsibilities from the Treasurer-Tax Collector to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
“… These initial ordinance revisions are not a comprehensive list,” notes the report. “Rather, they are improvements that can be made quickly to encourage compliance and begin to minimize the impacts of VHRs on surrounding neighborhoods. The Ad Hoc Committee will continue to research best practices in other jurisdictions and seek input from all stakeholders, and will likely return in the coming months with additional recommendations for consideration and discussion.”
Clusters and saturation of VHRs, notification to neighbors of proposed VHRs, and requirements for meeting occupants in person at check-in are a few of those topics that they will continue to look into.
At the beginning of January, El Dorado County supervisors voted 3-1 against a moratorium of VHRs — a move that would have followed in the footsteps of neighboring jurisdiction South Lake Tahoe.
The city implemented a temporary ban of new VHR permits as it worked toward a revised code, which includes a cap of 1,400 VHRs outside of the tourists core, increased fines, additional enforcement and several other provisions.
The Tribune will publish the date of the rescheduled meeting once it has been released.
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