Letter: Vote for South Lake Tahoe VHR ban (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Letter: Vote for South Lake Tahoe VHR ban (opinion)

Josh Benin
Guest Column

There ought to be a compromise letting city homeowners rent out their houses to vacationers, but the topic is controversial.

The city once felt residents should know what was permissible in their neighborhoods and maintained an online database listing. This has been removed. Maybe residents shouldn't know about rentals allowing 22 guests?

I sat down with those data once and calculated that if all the permitted VHRs in my neighborhood filled, and all the full-time residents fled, the population density would exceed San Francisco's.

Councilman Sass alone has been willing to say there's a problem requiring action. Council members David, Laine and Collin have vacillated, while member Davis recuses himself.

After much arm waving, weak reform appeared — bear boxes for trash would be required. VHR numbers would be capped — at just a few more than existing. No limits would exist on the "hotels" appearing in residential neighborhoods, or occupant density.

City government promised responses to complaints, since locals knew that police often ignored them. Data followed from the city on how few complaints were verified by investigators, making it seem like most were unfounded.

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Government did not volunteer that a consultant had been calling offenders as soon as a complaint was received, before enforcement appeared. The city knew of the warnings, but didn't volunteer it, which seems deceptive. The current VHR ordinance is specific (no warnings, violation = fine). It's a system that seems designed to protect the offenders.

Frustrated residents have a resolution on November's ballot, gradually banning VHRs in some areas. There's opposition, claims of financial catastrophe, but no real data. Get ready for lots of hyperbole and some outright lies.

I don't think that the real issue is with VHRs. It's distrust of a city government which gets fleeced. SnowGlobe complaints get the same treatment as VHRs, lots of talk, little action. Council proposed a sales tax to fund road repair, and organized shills to boost it. Citizens voted it down, after the mayor revealed that city government had always known roads were substandard, but never budgeted money for maintenance or repair. Should we trust this council with more money? With anything?

What are residents to do? For me, choice is clear. Require city government start listening and reacting. Vote for the VHR ban. Maybe, in a few years, once we've got the message across, VHRs can begin creeping back, but not now.

Monitor city government to make sure ordinances are actually enforced and penalties applied. And let's stop electing City Council members who give us nonsense like "creating a good business climate is top priority." It isn't. Making South Lake Tahoe a good place to live, raise children and work is.

Josh Benin

South Lake Tahoe, California