Petition seeks to tighten South Lake Tahoe VHR regulations, maintain current cap | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Petition seeks to tighten South Lake Tahoe VHR regulations, maintain current cap

A group is moving forward with a petition that would tighten regulations while enshrining the current cap on vacation home rentals outside the tourist core.

If the backers are successful in getting the question on the ballot, it will likely set up a showdown in November against a competing measure — further proof of the heightened controversy surrounding vacation home rentals (VHRs).

The latter measure, put forward by Tahoe Neighborhoods Group, aims to phase out VHRs in residential areas over a three-year period. Permanent residents would still be allowed to rent out their home or a unit on the same parcel for up to 30 days a year. The changes would not apply to VHRs within the tourist core.

The former measure was submitted to the city on April 9 by Jerry Williams and Craig Woodward, local real estate agents, and Melissa Wong, who operates a VHR.

Among the provisions, the proposal would tighten occupancy limits and prohibit people who were penalized for operating a VHR without a license from ever obtaining a VHR permit from the city.

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It also would prohibit the use of noise-related equipment outdoors at all times and it would forbid renewal of a VHR permit if the operator generates less than $1,500 of transient occupancy taxes (TOT) during the 12 months prior to expiration of the permit.

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In putting forth the changes, backers hope to strike a balance between protecting the role VHRs play in South Lake Tahoe's tourism-based economy while also tightening restrictions to ease the burden on local residents.

"Despite their importance to the city's economy, vacation home rentals can result in impacts to the community and the quality of life for permanent residents," the proposed initiative states. "As such, a balance must be struck between maintaining the economic viability of vacation home rentals as an important element of the city's tourism industry, while at the same time placing certain restrictions on the establishment and management vacation home rentals in order to protect and preserve the quality of life in the city's residential neighborhoods."

Along with the tightened regulations, the measure would create several bodies designed to provide additional information and oversight.

City Council would be required to create a special commission to study possibly using a portion of TOT for affordable housing programs. Council would have to create the commission by June 30, 2019.

It would be tasked with providing a feasibility evaluation and recommendations to City Council by June 30, 2020, and would be disbanded afterward. Council would appoint members to the five-member commission.

The new measure also would create an oversight committee tasked with providing recommendations to council for handling violations, setting fines and developing best practices for managing occupancy issues.

The committee would be strictly advisory and not have any true decision-making power.

Members of the five-member committee would be appointed by City Council. After the initial round of appointments, each member would serve a three-year term. Committee members could not serve more than two consecutive terms.

No more than two VHR permit holders could serve on the board, which would meet semi-annually.

In order to get the measure on the November ballot, backers would need to collect 1,004 valid signatures from registered voters, according to the El Dorado County Elections Department. Those signatures would need to be gathered and confirmed, which can take up to 30 days, in time for the city clerk's office to submit the resolution to the county by July 5.