South Lake Tahoe City Council: No VHR policy changes without public input
Changes to vacation home rental policy aren’t going to be made without more public input, according to South Lake Tahoe City Council.
The 152-page socioeconomic study commissioned by the city was released last week, and on Tuesday, June 13, the consultants behind the report presented their findings to council at a special meeting.
“The policy considerations are not meant to be a comprehensive program,” said Jessica Hayes, technical specialist with Michael Baker International, the company that compiled the report along with California State University’s Public Policy and Administration Department. “They are not meant to all be implemented at once.”
While the study shows that VHRs are on the rise and contributing to a loss of long-term rental stock and nuisance complaints, it also reports that a blanket ban or severe reduction would have “significant negative economic impacts.”
Suggestions in the report range from limiting the number of VHR permits available and requiring full-time local managers, to establishing VHR limits per neighborhood and mandating full-cost recovery for calls for service to VHR complaints.
The report also touches on the idea of implementing fees for second homes that are unoccupied for more than 30 days or transaction fees for units that will not be a primary residence, VHR or long-term rental.
Ultimately, said Hayes, it’s about determining what problems stemming from VHRs are the highest priorities and implementing the policies that address them — something City Council plans to mull over and discuss in another month.
“Before we go into subcommittee work, we as a council need to talk about what our vision is,” said Mayor Pro Tem Wendy David. “We need to define what is going to drive our policies.”
Councilmember Brooke Laine brought up the idea of a temporary ban on new VHRs as they decide their next move, but no action was taken by City Council other than deciding that a public workshop will be held at the next meeting on July 11.
The city’s VHR ordinance was last amended in May 2016. City Council voted to increase fees for VHRs to pay for enforcement and administration, require paved parking spots, mandate hot tubs be turned off by 10 p.m., and require a safety inspection of every vacation home rental. The city also gave residents within 300 feet notice of potential VHRs the option to object and set stricter occupancy limits.
The city eventually banned new VHRs in multi-family properties, but allowed existing units to continue operating.
Correction: This story incorrectly reported that the city offers rewards to people who turn in illegal VHRs. Though this program was discussed by City Council at the time other changes were made to the VHR code, it was not adopted.