Washoe County releases draft for short-term rentals
Residents around the lake are grappling with the question of how to deal with short-term rentals.
South Lake Tahoe is gearing up for another day in El Dorado County court regarding Measure T, a vacation home rental ban.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is working on criterion for STR guidelines and, just recently, Washoe County released a series of staff recommendations to shape an ordinance that will soon be presented to the Board of Commissioners.
Some citizens of unincorporated Washoe County, including Crystal Bay and Incline Village, expressed concerns about STRs in their neighborhoods. Some of the concerns were in regard to noise complaints, parking shortages and too many people staying in the rentals.
Trying to avoid going through the same thing as Measure T on the South Shore, the Washoe County commissioners directed staff to establish standards and a permitting process for STRs that addresses concerns of the community.
“(Short-term rentals) are becoming a little more prevalent in our communities and it’s really something that’s coming more to the forefront of the minds of a lot of our community members,” said Kelly Mullin, Washoe County senior planner. “We have started to hear a lot more comments and concerns from our community members related to short-term rentals and the impact that they’re having on our neighborhoods, so that kind of bubbled up to become the impetus for actually getting in there and establishing standards.”
Some of the recommendations include requiring property owners to obtain an STR permit through Washoe County, a responsibly party who could respond to complaints or concerns on the property within 30 minutes, on property parking, annual renewals and room taxes. Different tiers of permits would be given based on how many people can stay on the property which is determined by square footage.
The recommendations are being made based on feedback the county has received from the community. They hosted several public comment workshops, as have sent out an online survey that received almost 570 responses.
“There’s a wide variety of perspectives out there and that’s something we recognize that the opinions about short-term rentals can vary drastically depending on who it is that’s making those comments,” said Mullin. “So one of the goals we had going into the process was to really try to identify a good balancing point where we’re putting together standards for short-term rentals that are simple, fair, enforceable, but that they also balance some of those competing interests.”
While Mullin said her team did get negative feedback about STRs, she also received a lot of positive comments about having STRs in the area. Incline Village and Crystal Bay don’t offer a lot of lodging in terms of traditional hotels and motels.
According to the report by Mullin to the board, over 50% of homes in those communities are classified as vacant. With STR permits, business owners are excited about the financial impact of having those homes occupied.
“When it comes to tourism impacts, businesses potentially see additional support when you’ve got tourists that are frequenting their businesses, certainly short-term rentals provides another opportunity for them to be able to stay in the area.”
TRPA has also been working on formulating a set of regulatory options for jurisdictions and Washoe County has been working with the agency to make sure their recommendations will meet TRPA’s standards.
The recommendations will be presented to the Washoe board at their Nov. 12 meeting.
“I suspect that we’ll have a healthy discussion at that meeting,” said Mullin. “What we’re trying to do is ask the board to either confirm direction or course correct so that when it comes to actually putting out some specific code language we’ve gotten some of that direction from the board already.”
Feedback can be offered and the process followed at http://www.washoecounty.us/csd/planning_and_development/str.php.
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