Letter: South Lake Tahoe City Council’s failures put Measure T on the ballot (opinion)
If you believe the negative impacts of vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods outweigh the benefits you should vote YES on Measure T. If you believe VHRs have changed the character of our neighborhoods, reduced available housing for residents, and ignored our zoning laws, you should vote YES on Measure T.
The Tahoe Neighborhoods Group has been advocating for vacation rental reform since 2014 when the city’s planning staff was recommending a temporary moratorium to stop the rapid growth of VHRs and give the city time to develop a comprehensive plan.
Because the City Council failed to support a moratorium and then three years later failed to support a reasonable compromise to reduce the number of VHRs, residents collected signatures to place Measure T on the ballot.
Three years ago there were 1,150 VHRs in the neighborhoods when the council decided to adopt a “special use” permit process that promised to reduce the total number by increasing fees, requiring safety inspections and allowing neighbors to object to new VHR permits.
What happened next is textbook bureaucracy. The fees went up (government rule No. 1). Neighbors were notified of VHR applications near them and then their objections were ignored. A total of $73,500 of our money was spent for a socioeconomic study that ended up in the “circular file.”
The council then concluded that VHR problems could be solved with more enforcement.
The city anticipated that their new rules would result in fewer VHRs. That was a miscalculation. The total number of residential VHRs quickly jumped to today’s total of 1,400 in our neighborhoods.
The conclusion: Don’t ask government to fix a problem unless you are prepared to have the problem made worse.
Measure T is on the ballot because residents lost faith in city government to recognize the impacts VHRs have on our neighborhoods and lacked the political courage to improve the situation beyond requiring bear boxes and hiring more city staff to manage the problems.
The city’s $200 million investment in redevelopment was sold as the environmental and economic salvation of SLT. The “hole in the ground” is a reminder that redevelopment’s lodging expansion remains unfinished while the city looks to our neighborhoods to collect hotel taxes to fill the void.
There are now houses being rented by the night in every neighborhood far from public transportation and the shops and restaurants that pay premium rents to be where tourists were intended to visit.
If VHRs weren’t a problem, Measure T would not be on the ballot.
Tahoe Neighborhoods Group