Douglas County commission: Too many pro-industry members on VHR task force |

Douglas County commission: Too many pro-industry members on VHR task force

Kurt Hildebrand

STATELINE, Nev. — A task force to examine vacation home rentals will undergo a makeover after commissioners agreed the current list trends toward those in favor of the rentals.

“Some of the criticism that seems most of the people on the task force are pro VHR,” Commissioner Wes Rice said of the feedback he got. “They said homeowners were under-represented. I’d like to see some outreach to get a more balanced group of people. I don’t want to get into the same situation as Lake Tahoe where they get to a 50-50 vote and everybody sues everybody.”

Douglas County commissioners discussed the task force and what they’d like to see from the group.

Commissioner Larry Walsh said that he’d like to see a single ordinance across the county.

“Frankly, that might lead to some sort of cap,” he said.

Presently VHRs are only legal at Tahoe Township — the portion of the county located in the Tahoe Basin — where there are 546 permitted.

There were 450 unpermitted rentals at Lake Tahoe and in East Fork, Acting County Manager Jenifer Davidson told commissioners on Thursday, Jan. 24.

She said that’s down from the 1,290 noncompliant properties. Since November, 65 property owners have applied for new permits.

Letters were sent to 80 vacation rental operators and 66 are now in compliance. The rest have been sent a second notice to come into compliance by the end of the month. Failure to do so carries a $5,000 fine, Davidson said.

A dozen of those are located in Carson Valley. The letters prompted three to apply for a permit to operate a bed and breakfast. Unlike VHRs, a bed and breakfast requires that the owner occupy the property while people are there. That process requires a public hearing before the planning commission.

The county has contracted with Host Compliance to operate a 24-hour hotline where residents can call and report issues with neighboring rentals.

That contract costs the county $94,000 a year.

Commissioner Dave Nelson said he felt the program should pay for itself from fees and fined levied on the operators.

Commissioner John Engels praised county staff’s work over the past year.

“It is an important issue, but progress is being made,” he said.

He suggested the county provide one stop on its website that collects all the vacation rental rules, so residents can learn the rules and know what the fees are.

Commissioners Nelson and Rice said they encouraged people who contacted them to volunteer for the task force.

“I asked if we opened it up for another two weeks whether they would volunteer,” Nelson said. “But most people were not anxious to get on a committee. That leaves us to do our best to represent the county in totality.”

Once the task force membership is finalized, it will report to the county manager.

Commissioners expressed concern about the workload placed on the county’s code enforcement officer by the new vacation rental ordinance. Davidson said a second code enforcement officer has been supporting the current one while undergoing training.