Sustainable Community Alliance submits signatures for initiative to maintain South Lake Tahoe VHR cap
It is increasingly looking like South Lake Tahoe voters could have to answer three local ballot questions come November.
A group, dubbed the Sustainable Community Alliance, submitted 1,827 signatures to the city clerk’s office Monday in an effort to put a competing ballot question on vacation home rentals before voters.
Unlike a different petition that seeks to phase out VHRs outside the tourist core and commercially zoned areas, the initiative pushed by Sustainable Community Alliance would maintain and protect the current cap of 1,400 VHRs outside the tourist core. Only a vote of the people could change the cap.
It also would reduce the maximum bedroom occupancy, prohibit sound amplification devices outside, require the creation of an oversight committee and an independent special commission and prohibit anyone illegally operating a VHR from obtaining a permit, among other elements.
Backers say the initiative is an attempt to compromise on what has become one of the most controversial issues on South Shore.
“South Lake Tahoe residents want to protect our neighborhoods and our local economy,” Jerry Williams, co-president of the Sustainable Community Alliance, said in a press release. “Many of us have been working to find a compromise for a very long time. The Restrictions Measure addresses concerns about noise and occupancy, while preserving the economic benefit Vacation Home Rentals bring to our community.”
A different initiative pushed by the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group, a group of local residents that bills itself as a “grassroots effort,” would phase out VHRs outside the tourist core and commercially zoned areas over a three-year period.
Permanent residents would be allowed to rent out their home or a unit on the same parcel for up to 30 days a year. It does not apply to VHRs within the tourist core — an area that stretches from Heavenly Village down U.S. 50 to Ski Run Boulevard.
Tahoe Neighborhoods Group submitted 1,651 signatures to the city clerk on April 30. The group only needs 1,036 valid signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot.
Tahoe Neighborhoods Group has yet to hear if the minimum number of signatures has been verified, according to member Peggy Bourland.
“The Tahoe Neighborhoods Group is all about the democratic process,” Bourland noted Tuesday. “If an opposing idea makes it to the ballot then all the better. The voters will have more options.”
The other initiative, which boasts support from the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association and the South Tahoe Association of Realtors, needs 1,004 signatures validated in order to make the ballot.
Last week, signatures were submitted for a cannabis initiative.
If all three initiatives are deemed to have enough signatures, South Lake Tahoe voters could have three local questions to answer in November.
In the meantime, City Council has attempted to combat coverage of the VHR issue from larger regional and national media outlets.
Council adopted a series of changes to South Lake Tahoe’s VHR ordinance in late 2017. Those changes, which include two $1,000 fines for violations, brought on the recent media attention.
Earlier this month council discussed lowering the fines. It also discussed revisions to other areas of regulation but was advised against that due to the Sustainable Community Alliance initiative. Since that particular initiative builds off of the city’s existing ordinance, any changes to the code would be null if the measure passes, council was advised.