Unofficial results: South Lake Tahoe voters say ‘yes’ to Measure T |

Unofficial results: South Lake Tahoe voters say ‘yes’ to Measure T

Supporters of "yes on Measure T" wave at passing cars in late October.
Ryan Hoffman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Voters have said “yes” to a ballot measure that would eliminate vacation home rentals in South Lake Tahoe residential neighborhoods, according to unofficial elections results.

With 42.7 percent turnout, Measure T appears heading toward victory with just over 100 votes — 2,345 in favor (51.23 percent) and 2,232 (48.77 percent) against.

The question, put on the ballot by a citizen-led effort, asked voters if they wanted to eliminate vacation home rentals outside the tourist core and commercial areas in three years.

The measure does come with a small caveat in that it provides full-time residents the ability to rent out their home up to 30 days per year. Any future changes need to be put to a vote of the people.

VHRs have been one of the most polarizing issues in South Lake Tahoe for several years now.

In late 2017 the current City Council passed an overhaul of the city’s VHR rules. Those changes included a cap on VHRs outside the tourist core, massive fines and other requirements that garnered national news coverage.

However, those changes came after a failed ordinance that also contained a 150-foot distance requirement between VHRs to prevent clustering. That ordinance fell apart after then Mayor Pro Tem Wendy David said she could support the cap but not the distance requirement.

The failure of that ordinance led Tahoe Neighborhoods Group — a local organization whose membership overlaps with past citizen-led initiative efforts — to start collecting signatures for Measure T.

Tahoe Neighbors Group was successful in its effort. Meanwhile, a competing effort backed by local Realtors failed to gather enough valid signatures, setting the stage for a fervent campaign.

Outside organizations, including the National Association of Realtors, contributed thousands of dollars to the “no on T” effort, flooding the local media market with advertisements and mailers.

The exposure made the issue top-of-mind for some local voters.

“Measure T is especially polarizing to me,” South Lake Tahoe resident Jan Sabistina said Tuesday outside her polling place. “The other state stuff doesn’t interest me as much.”

Jan said she and her husband Gary Sabistina, both regular voters, would be watching for updates throughout the night.

“This election has a different feel because of Measure T,” Jan said. “Everybody is talking about it.”

Jeff Brennan, another South Lake Tahoe resident, also is a regular voter. Asked if any particular race or issue added to his motivation to vote, Brennan said Measure T.

“T was a big deal for me,” he said, adding that he was voting “no” on the measure because he believed it would be economically harmful.

Some were more explicit in their take on T.

Camille Pruitt, a South Lake Tahoe resident, was standing outside the polling place at Lake Tahoe Community College with a “no on T” sign. She and her family clean VHRs.

“It’s how I support my family.”

For the most part, those early voters Tuesday morning were largely positive, Pruitt said. A few people had questions, which Pruitt said she answered.

Regardless of position on Measure T, she acknowledged it has been one of the most debated issues this election cycle.

“It’s the topic everyone wants to talk about,” she said.

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