Washoe County commissioners to discuss short-term rental regulations | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Washoe County commissioners to discuss short-term rental regulations

Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler speaks at a meeting Monday in Incline Village.
Ryan Hoffman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Washoe County commissioners are poised to discuss how the county should move forward with short-term rentals.

The discussion, planned for the commissioners Feb. 26 meeting in Reno, follows a January meeting in Incline Village where two commissioners listened and responded to concerns and opinions from community members.

The discussion at Tuesday’s meeting is intended to provide staff with direction on how the county should proceed with short-term rentals, commonly referred to as vacation home rentals or VHRs.

But before proceeding to that point, county staff is asking the board for consensus on the simple fact that short-term rentals are, as the regulations currently state, allowed in the county.

The confusion over that basic question, as the Tribune has reported, stems from conflicting county regulations.

The development section of Washoe County’s code effectively prohibits short-term rentals in residential areas. However, a newer provision elsewhere in the code grants the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) the authority to issue licenses and collect transient occupancy tax.

As Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler explained at the January meeting in Incline Village, the Washoe County District Attorney has advised commissioners that the ordinance granting the authority to RSCVA must be recognized because it came after the prohibition on short-term rentals.

Depending on whether a majority of commissioners agree with that interpretation, the discussion at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting could go in one of two directions, according to information in the meeting packet.

One possibility is an all out ban on short-term rentals in Washoe County.

The other possibility is to provide direction to staff for creating ordinances to regulate short-term rentals.

Neither Berkbigler nor Commissioner Bob Lucey, the two commissioners who were present for the January meeting in Incline Village, expressed an appetite for an all out ban. Berkbigler went as far as to say that even if she supported a ban, there wasn’t enough support among the rest of the five-member commission.

Both Lucey and Berkbigler told the Tribune at the time that they were confident Washoe County could craft meaningful regulations and avoid situations such as that in South Lake Tahoe, where an attempt at regulating the industry led residents to put an initiative on the ballot banning short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.

The initiative passed by 58 votes in November. A lawsuit was filed shortly after. A judge has yet to rule on the case.

As the staff report for Tuesday commissioner meeting notes, much of the feedback at the Incline Village meeting focused on mitigating impacts to neighborhoods.

Tuesday’s commissioner meeting starts at 10 a.m., in the commissioner chambers at 1001 E. Ninth St., in Reno. Meetings also can be streamed online at http://www.washoecounty.us/bcc.