New rule could bring vacation rentals to Carson Valley |

New rule could bring vacation rentals to Carson Valley

Kurt Hildebrand

Vacation home rentals will be permitted in Carson Valley if a revision of a new Douglas County ordinance is approved.

A workshop on revising the ordinance dealing with vacation home rentals is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Monday in the Sand Harbor III meeting room at Harrah’s in Stateline.

While the rentals have been allowed in Tahoe Township for years, they’ve not been allowed in East Fork Township, which includes Carson Valley and Topaz Ranch Estates.

That hasn’t stopped residents of those areas from advertising rentals on Airbnb and other websites.

According to the proposed rewrite, the new ordinance will apply to any single-family dwelling, townhome, condominium, duplex or triplex in the county.

The ordinance does not apply to apartments, commercial buildings or private events where people aren’t paying to stay.

Under the new rules, property owners who were operating an unpermitted VHR would be subject to penalties of up to $500 per unit per day for a maximum penalty of $10,000.

Residents wishing to rent out their property for 1-28 days must obtain a permit from the county and undergo an inspection, and obtain a written recommendation from any improvement district or homeowners’ association where the property is located that has responsibility for the streets, parking, or trash pickup.

Douglas County said there are 475 vacation rentals in Tahoe Township, while there are about two-dozen illegal short-term rentals in East Fork.

To legally rent out a property in East Fork, owners have had to apply for a special use permit for a bed and breakfast.

Any VHR is required to pay transient occupancy tax, which has until now been done on the honor system.

“There is currently no way for the county to determine how many nights a home was occupied for short-term rental stay,” according to a report prepared by Community Development Director Mimi Moss.

Moss asked that commissioners delay discussing expanding vacation rentals to Carson Valley until after the new ordinance was tested at Tahoe.

The county collects about $1.4 million in transient occupancy tax from vacation rentals.

According to her March memo, there are possibly as many as 800-1,200 vacation home rentals operating illegally in the county.

If even a third of those were permitted, it would result in another $1.212 million. That money would  pay to ensure compliance and provide some revenue to the general fund.

The workshop at Harrah’s is just the first step. Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to review the ordinance in July and issue a recommendation. The ordinance is scheduled to be heard at three county commission meetings, including Aug. 2, Aug. 16 and Sept. 6.

On the California side of Tahoe’s South Shore, VHRs remain a source of contention. The city of South Lake Tahoe recently received national media attention for its fines, leading City Council to consider changes to the financial penalties.

Meanwhile an initiative that would phase out VHRs located outside the city’s commercial areas and tourist core appears headed to the November ballot.

Signatures have been submitted for a competing initiative that would lock-in the city’s current VHR cap and tighten some regulations.


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