New council jumps right into the fray |

New council jumps right into the fray

Heading up a blockbuster meeting tonight at 6, a new South Lake Tahoe City Council is knocking on the door of a new vacation-home rental ordinance that intends to weed out obnoxious visitors who disturb neighborhood peace.

The controversial ordinance passed its first reading Nov. 19, when a group of property managers submitted 13 suggestions for the city to consider while enacting a law that could slap property owners of repeat offenders with fines of up to $1,000.

The city is trying to quell concerns from residents over transient visitors who engage in inappropriate behavior, leave trash, make loud noises and overcrowd neighborhoods.

Property managers and owners of vacation-home rentals came out in full force at the last meeting, with concerns over harsh treatment of the tourism-based industry that accounts for a quarter of the city’s transient occupancy tax revenue.

Accommodation Station owner and operator Greta Hambsch said Monday she thinks most property managers would be receptive to the drafted ordinance that affects about 1,100 homes.

“We’re fine with the second reading. Our general stance is we’re going in quietly. We’re hopeful they’ve taken suggestions as points of clarification,” she said.

One of the major concerns — vehicle parking — would be limited to the property grounds.

City code prohibits overnight parking on the street for any residence, but violations have been spotted from permanent residences.

The perceived double standard may send a mixed message to tourists, Hambsch said. But, by the same token, Hambsch said the management firms want to work with the city on an agreement that establishes a permitting system to be manned by a technician. An initial start-up fee would amount to $75 per permit, with renewals costing $50 each. The intent involves tracking activity from the homes.

If it passes, the city will review the policy within the year.

With a new panel taking shape, incoming Mayor Judy Brown wants to cap off her next year’s term with a suggestion to move the council meetings to daytime and once a month. In her opening remarks, she’ll address the possibility of placing the protocol on the next agenda to fellow council members Tom Davis and Hal Cole as well as newly elected panelists Kathay Lovell and John Upton.

Along with declaring the results of the election, the new panel also plans to iron out the debate over the effective date of Measure Z, a tax initiative that passed a month ago.

The new City Council, slated to meet in chambers at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd., will also decide whether to schedule team-building workshops.

It may take team building in the South Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Agency to come up with a parking plan for Heavenly Gondola users and Marriott visitors at Park Avenue until the city opens its parking garage come spring.

Options should be raised at the agency’s meeting that may involve Heavenly, Harrah’s, Harveys, Embassy Vacation Resorts, the Ski Run Marina Village and the Crescent V Shopping Center.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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