Washoe County commissioners discuss short-term rental guidelines, no ordinance set
A three-hour discussion Tuesday about short-term rentals in Incline Village and Crystal Bay took up a large portion of the Washoe County Commission meeting.
Senior planner, Kelly Mullins, presented a list of recommendations for rules and regulations regarding STRs in unincorporated Washoe County.
These recommendations followed a discussion by the commission earlier this year where the commissioners decided they didn’t want to ban STRs.
With about 90% of STRs in unincorporated Washoe County being in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, the new regulations would mostly impact ressidents in those areas.
The recommendations addressed concerns from those residents such as noise complaints, parking and occupancy limits.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mullins was presenting the recommendations to the commission to make sure her and her team were on the right path and to get feedback from the commissioners.
While Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler is the one who represents Incline Village and Crystal Bay, Chair Vaughn Hartung, Vice Chair Bob Lucey and Commissioner Kitty Jung all had a lot of thoughts on the issue while Commissioner Jeanne Herman was mostly silent during the three-hour discussion.
Parking was a concern brought up by multiple commissioners. Parking is notoriously hard to find in those areas. Mullins recommended that STR owners must provide one parking spot for every three occupants.
Lucey wants to see that number changed to one spot for every four occupants, Berkbigler wants to make sure the parking spots are paved so that cars aren’t loosening dirt and making more run-off into the lake and Jung wants to encourage people who don’t drive at all.
In addition to parking, Jung also wanted to discuss the idea of property managers being in charge of these regulations rather than the commission.
Another concern was the ability of the county to enforce these regulations. Everyone agreed that Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is spread thin as it is and they likely wouldn’t be able to respond to complaints regarding STR without additional staff.
Berkbigler suggested permit fees could go toward additional staff but Lucey felt the fees as they are will not generate enough revenue to hire enough staff.
The public had a chance to comment and Hartung ran a tight ship during the public comment period, not allowing anyone to speak even a second over their allotted three minutes.
While several property managers and realtors were in support of STRs and the regulations, all the residents of Incline Village who spoke were against the STRs, some asking for an outright ban on them.
One of the repeated themes of the comments from Incline citizens was the illegality of the STRs.
Incline Village neighborhoods have covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prevent homes to be used for business. They feel that STRs count as businesses and therefore violate the CC&Rs.
Mullins said during her presentation that she’s worked with the Washoe County District Attorney’s office on the issue.
“Both long-term rentals and short-term rentals involve the use of a residential home for a residential-type purpose,” Mullins said to the Tribune. “These are considered a civil agreement between neighbors, and may be enforced either by a homeowner’s association, or neighbor-to-neighbor through a court or mediation system. Washoe County does not enforce these agreements between neighbors.”
Mullins will take the feedback she heard from the meeting and revise her recommendations.
While not all of the feedback was clear, one thing that was clear was that the commission will not entertain the idea of banning STRs.
“Absolutely there should be some basic regulations,” Lucey said.
“I feel for you, I hear you, we can get to a place where we can all live somewhat happily,” Jung said addressing the people from Incline.
There is no timeline on when the next set of recommendations will be released.