Short term rental occupancy calculations amended in Washoe County

Staff Report

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Washoe County Planning Commission approved the proposed amendments for short term rentals that addressed concerns from owners, community members and agencies in North Lake Tahoe.

Senior planner for Washoe County, Courtney Weiche, presented the proposed changes to the board on Tuesday, March 1, which included amendments related to occupancy calculations, parking requirements, trash and garbage collection rules, and insurance and permitting requirements.

The STR ordinance originally went into effect on May 1, 2021, with the grace period ending in August. Following the initial implementation of the program, the county began to hold outreach and feedback sessions with STR owners, community members, and public agencies in order to understand what was working and what wasn’t. A large majority of the comments from STR owners were related to the occupancy calculation process, which some saw as unfair to condominium properties.

“In response to the concerns that the currently methodology disproportionately impacts condominiums, staff recommends revising the methodology used to determine occupants,” said Weiche.

Currently, the calculation allows one person for every 200 square feet of verifiable habitable space in the STR, including bedrooms. This meant that some condos with two or three bedrooms could only have a maximum of four to five people.

“As an alternative, staff recommends revising the occupancy to based on two person for every one legal bedroom, with the remainder of the verified habitable space to be calculated at one person for every 200 square feet in accordance with the 2018 International Building code, not to also include the square footage of each bedroom,” said Weiche.

Although the occupancy calculation will change, the parking requirements will still play a role in how many people can occupy an STR at a time.

One space is required for every four occupants and the new amendment will eliminate the use of excess parking in areas.

“Parking used for occupancy would be based on proof of designated parking spaces for the unit and would not be able to use overflow or unassigned parking towards an STR’s occupancy calculation,” said Weiche.

These rules would be applied to single family and multi-family residences.

Proof of insurance requirements will change to improve the accuracy, speed, and ease within the program.

“Currently, the code requires staff to verify the minimum requirements of insurance via a certificate of insurance,” said Weiche. “Due to the innumerable number of insurance policies and the complexities of each, staff is recommending expanding the required notarized affidavit to put the onus on the applicant to affirm they have the minimum insurance requirements as required by the code rather than staff deciphering through each of the various insurance policies for compliance with the code.”

This repeals the requirement to submit a certificate of insurance.

It will also change the requirements for processing a tier 3 STR, which holds 20 or more occupants. Now, instead of applying with an administrative permit that is approved by the Board of Adjustments, owners of tier 3 STRs must apply for a special use permit through the Planning Commission, which will require a public hearing and the ability to add conditions to the permit based on the impact of the STRs location and circumstances.

Finally, a bear box will be required in the Incline Village General Improvement District’s service territory following two confirmed trash violations.

Commissioner Larry Chesney commented before the approval that he was proud of the work done by staff to get the STR document completed.

“From the very beginning, we looked at this document as a living, breathing document that needs to be reviewed and updated as things progress,” said Commissioner Chesney. “We’ve found good things about it and bad, and I think we are keeping our word on that. I very much appreciate staff and the work that they put into it.”

The approved amendments in May will head to the Washoe County Board of Commissioners for possible approval.

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