TRPA re-evaluating vacation home rules |

TRPA re-evaluating vacation home rules

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

By Susan Wood

Tribune staff writer

A staff proposal to change land-use codes to accommodate vacation home rentals may draw a packed house at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board meeting at Stateline on Wednesday.

The board will consider the proposals in the hopes of resolving a controversial topic which has brought about months of banter and diatribe in public forums and letters to the editor in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Staff recommends clearly defining a vacation home rental as “a unit including either a single-family home or condominium, rented for the purpose of overnight lodging for a period not less than one night and not more than 30 days.”

These properties account for 7 percent of the housing stock in the basin – more than 3,000 dwellings, according to TRPA staff. Staff proposes having workshops with community stakeholders to discuss the proposal and to change the code to accommodate it.

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TRPA acting Executive Director Jerry Wells said implementing the code would take 90 days to accomplish. No date has been set on the workshops.

Now the rentals don’t fall within allowed land-use plans. A debate was sparked between the agency and real estate agents, renters, business and civic leaders when TRPA tried to tie building permit approvals to the allowed use. It has since abandoned the procedure.

Wells said the concern that too many homes were turning into rentals has subsided with a flattening or leveling real estate market.

Still, TRPA staff believe a land-use amendment is needed to comply with the regulatory agency’s Compact. Wells said the issue may be revisited in the 2007 regional plan update.

TRPA’s Local Government Committee – which consists of basin representatives – suggested the issue be left to the local jurisdictions. South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County have ordinances in place to deal with the nuisance issues associated with the rentals such as noise, parking and trash. But for TRPA, leaving land use to local jurisdictions doesn’t go far enough.

“We feel they’re inconsistent with the code. What we’re recommending is to amend the code to allow the use,” Wells said, referring to the Highway 50 corridor as the primary commercial zone allowing tourist accommodation units. “We recognize that not everyone wants to stay at Embassy Suites. We’re not interested in prohibiting vacation home rentals.”

Realtors, property managers and Tahoe chamber representatives expressed concern over the proposal. South Lake Tahoe Association of Realtors spokeswoman Sharon Kerrigan said members have approached it with caution.

“If the outcome is truly that – a clarification in the code – then that’s what we want,” she said. “But it appears the staff still has objections.”

South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Duane Wallace said the ambiguity and process have given him reason to be concerned.

Wallace takes issue with TRPA staff’s steadfast commitment to regulating vacation rentals.

“First, they’re in our streets, then our yards. Now they want to be inside our houses,” he said.

The chamber executive also objects to TRPA staff bringing the proposal in front of the board before it calls the stakeholders together as the Local Government Committee suggested.

“What is it going to take for staff to follow the direction of their local elected and appointed leaders?” he asked.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at