Workshop on potential changes to vacation home rental rules draws crowd of about 100 people
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — More than 90 people crammed into the South Lake Tahoe City Council chambers on Tuesday, and several more listened from the lobby, for a discussion on potential changes to the vacation home rental code and how to reduce the impacts of troublesome tenants.
In the approximately three-hour public workshop, audience members had the chance to speak up about their concerns regarding vacation home renters and the possible rule changes presented to the council at a Feb. 17 meeting.
Some of those changes included limiting outdoor hot tub use after 10 p.m., forbidding amplified outdoor music after 10 p.m., requiring bear boxes at properties with repeat trash violations and reducing the number of allowable occupants at a home rental.
Many participants at Tuesday’s meeting seemed to agree that cracking down on noise, improving enforcement and implementing stiff fines for violators is needed.
There also seemed to be support for fining vacation home owners for tenant violations, though to a lesser degree than the violators themselves.
“I think they (the public) want the city’s help on the fine because for an owner they want to say, ‘look, you better treat this house well, and if you don’t and make a lot of noise, you’re going to get a heavy fine from the city,’” City Manager Nancy Kerry said the day after the meeting. “And the residents really want it because they think it will change conduct and behavior.”
One area that seemed to generate mixed opinions, however, had to do with the number of occupants allowed in a vacation home. The current rule is two guests per bedroom plus an extra four, but the proposal at last month’s meeting was two guests per bedroom and any number of children under age 10.
Some of the audience said limiting the number of occupants could negatively affect the way the property is marketed, while others noted the direct correlation between noise and the number of guests in a home.
One man also pointed out that allowing an unlimited amount of children under age 10 in a vacation home could mean an entire Boy Scout troop.
It wasn’t long before a third option was presented — a compromise that would allow two guests per bedroom plus an extra two.
“I did think that was a good compromise,” Kerry said. “I hear the rental companies and the homeowners who rent out. Their perspective is it does matter. It is affecting them.”
“On the other hand, to say occupancy has no impact on noise and trash and parking doesn’t make sense. It does. So some give and take has to come on this occupancy (issue). It’s probably going to be a judgment call from the council members’ perspective,” she added.
Other topics of discussion had to do with educating vacation home renters and the potential implementation of separate permit fee systems for properties that are locally and non-locally managed.
Kerry said the comments at the meeting will be put into the public record, summarized and presented to the city council at the April 7 meeting. She said there’s a chance the council could move forward with the recruitment of an enforcement officer at that time, as well as adopt the more agreed upon changes to fines, fees and enforcement.