Letter — What has changes since TRPA rules were written
The TRPA took one small step toward monitoring their long standing requirements and lawsuits are threatened. Let’s identify what has changed since the Plan Area Statements were developed. The discussion has failed to clarify the term “vacation rentals.” Two very different types of activities are clumped together under the term vacation rental.
TRPA differentiated between residential use and tourist accommodations in the Table of Primary Uses. Single family dwellings and summer homes are residential uses. Transient dwellings are considered tourist accommodations. Zoning law exists for one fundamental reason — to ensure against, prevent and/or provide legal remedy for conflicts that arise out of placement of high impact or intensive property uses into locations that cause conflict with other, lower intensity property uses. Specifically, you don’t build motels among residential homes, because the occupancy loads and the associated commercial impacts of noise, parking, constant arrivals and departures and overall intensive use are not consistent with a residential neighborhood. These are fundamental land use planning principles. We have residential neighborhoods for residents and commercial areas for tourist accommodations. The two activities are: 1) Vacation rental. The Tahoe area is second home for part-time residents who periodically rent their home to friends or others and have a personal stake in their neighborhood. This activity was ongoing at the time of development of the plan area statements, was recognized by TRPA, included in the requirements and provided for on a limited basis. That limited use would not alter the residential nature of the property. 2) Mini-motel. This person may purchase five-six homes in a residential neighborhood, never resides in the houses, and uses them strictly as a business renting to transients. These mini-motels are businesses run like motels, without safeguards of a manager onsite, without compliance with commercial codes to protect guests and without the associated costs legitimate lodging properties incur. A motel is required to pay about $20,000 to add a room accommodating two people, when a mini-motel opens and serves 12-20 people with no such initial cost.
Mini-motels have proliferated. If only 50 percent of the 3,000 reported by the Tribune are occupied during a given week, by a group of six, that is 9,000 tourists per day who would otherwise be staying in the motels and hotels.
Neighborhoods? Given the choice of a vacationing family or a large fraternity party in our neighborhoods, which will have more of an impact on our environment?
South Lake Tahoe
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