Measure T: VHR-restricting initiative at Tahoe upheld in court
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A ballot measure that restricts vacation home rentals in South Lake Tahoe has been upheld in court, but another appeal appears to be on the horizon.
An El Dorado County judge on Monday, June 1 ruled in favor of the city on nearly all issues brought up in an appeal of Measure T, a measure passed by voters in November 2018.
The fight over vacation home rentals was brought to the forefront a couple of years ago when the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group started a grass-roots effort that gathered enough steam to qualify for the ballot.
The measure bans VHRs outside of the tourist core and the city chose to uphold the will of the voters.
South Lake Tahoe Property Owners Group filed a suit against the city over the legality of the measure.
Property owners filed a motion for summary judgment to invalidate Measure T, while the city filed for a summary judgment stating Measure T is a valid Legislative Act.
A summary judgment allows a judge to make findings on a case without a trial which would’ve ended the fight.
The city also filed a motion for summary adjudication which allows the judge to decide on each piece of the case separately.
El Dorado County Judge Dylan Sullivan ruled on Monday to deny both summary judgments, although she did grant a large portion of the city’s summary adjudication.
The court found in favor of the city on whether Measure T interferes with vested rights, whether it exceeds the initiative power, whether the occupancy limits are unconstitutional and whether the measure is vague and ambiguous.
In other words, Measure T has been upheld.
The only part of the case that was denied is whether Measure T unconstitutionally impairs the obligation of contract. In other words, if VHR owners outside of the tourist core rented their homes through December 2021, will those contracts stand?
Peggy Bourland, with Tahoe Neighborhoods Group, is pleased with the court’s ruling.
“This decision was expected and reasonable, and establishes a good long term policy for the City and residents,” Bourland said in an email to the Tribune. “The Tahoe Neighborhoods Group proposed the initiative because neighborhoods were being negatively impacted by investors building and renting housing for short term ‘commercial’ use in residential neighborhoods which diminished the quality of life and well being of the community and removed much needed long term housing for the local workforce.”
Property Owners Group representative Mark Salmon is disappointed in the ruling but is not surprised.
“We anticipated that we wouldn’t win at the lower court,” Salmon said, adding that they are planning to appeal the decision.
“It will be good to take the issue outside of our local area,” Salmon said, adding “this is a marathon, not a sprint.
With the impact COVID-19 has had on our Tahoe’s tourist economy, Salmon wonders if there was another ballot measure, whether voters would vote the same.
There is still a chance for oral arguments on that issue, which is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 12.
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