New rules in development for vacation home rentals in South Lake Tahoe
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Stricter rules on vacation home rentals in South Lake Tahoe are inching closer to becoming a reality, following a discussion at a city council meeting Tuesday.
While the new rules have yet to be finalized, city officials have decided to move forward with several options aimed at reducing the number of rental-related complaints.
The options being considered include limiting outdoor hot tub use after 10 p.m., forbidding “amplified” outdoor music after 10 p.m., reducing the number of allowable occupants at a home rental and requiring bear boxes at properties with repeat trash violations.
Most of the options would be “complaint-driven,” meaning enforcement would be unlikely without authorities first receiving word of a disturbance, according to officials. But there does seem to be agreement from city leaders that specific restrictions are necessary in order to successfully enforce the law and reduce vacation rental issues.
“We don’t necessarily want to go out and find people or create violations,” Police Chief Brian Uhler said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “We want a system in place that is clear and enforceable, and at the same time we want to recognize what has brought us here to begin with: outcry from the neighborhoods. People are upset.”
More than 1,500 permitted vacation home rentals currently exist in the city. Trash and parking issues are sometimes associated with them, but the biggest complaints center on noise, Uhler said.
For this reason, stronger penalties are also being considered for those who break the rules. A first offense for violating the proposed 10 p.m. hot tub and music curfew, for instance, would result in a $250 fine — not a warning.
However, limiting the number of guests in a rental could also help with noise, according to Uhler. So staff is recommending councilmembers change the number of allowable guests to two per bedroom, instead of two per bedroom plus an extra four.
In all, Uhler presented nine changes or additions to the vacation rental ordinance. Representatives of property management businesses and owners of vacation rentals had mixed feelings on a few of them at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“There are several that we would support, namely hot tub restrictions, amplified noise restrictions and holding guests responsible for infractions,” said Gregory Kiskinen, representing Lake Tahoe Lodging Company and Vail Resorts.
“However, I think the new proposed fee levels are too significant,” he added. “It would have direct negative impact on our business operations.”
The option Kiskinen opposed proposes to increase the annual vacation home rental permit fee. Currently the fee is $210 for an initial permit and $144 for a renewal, but it could go up to $1000 for larger rentals under the new recommendation.
According to a staff report, the city’s enforcement capacity is “directly linked to the amount of available funding.”
Ultimately, city council members — excluding Tom Davis, who recused himself from the matter because he’s a shareholder in Tahoe Keys Resort — decided to hold one final workshop on the issue before adopting any changes.
The date for the workshop will be announced shortly. Once it is complete, staff hopes to have a final recommendation before the council by early April.