Workshop highlights long-stay ordinance |

Workshop highlights long-stay ordinance

Jack Barnwell

South Lake Tahoe residents and property owners will have an opportunity on April 22 at 5 p.m. to learn more about and address a proposed ordinance aimed at long-term hotel/motel properties.

The meeting will be held at the Senior Center, 2050 Lake Tahoe Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe.

The ordinance, proposed in a March 3 staff report, would subject 58 of the 120 hotels in the city to fee-based inspections similar to multi-family dwellings.

According to the staff report, long-term single room occupancy (SRO) hotels are the only unregulated dwellings in South Lake Tahoe. Hotels and motels that rent rooms for 30 days are less are governed by the transient occupancy tax, while multi-family units like apartments fall under the fee-based inspection.

The staff report cited health and safety concerns and a need to address deteriorating long-term hotels as the main drive for the proposed ordinance.

Shawna Brekke-Read, SLT’s Director of Development Services, said the city’s housing element called for such an ordinance when it was adopted in 2014.

“This housing element policy recognized that many hotels/motels are used for long-term occupancy without being expected to meet basic health and safety standards nor without being subject to regular inspections,” Brekke-Read said by email on April 14.

She added that the city has heard concerns regarding the long-stay hotels in the past.

“The City has also received complaints/concerns from people throughout the community, including community residents, long-term hotel/motel residents, business owners, and the environmental community, that unsanitary conditions exist at hotels/motels used for long-term occupancy, that the City’s regulations for multi-family housing are not being uniformly applied to all housing that is similar, and that the hotels/motels were not built to accommodate long-term occupancy,” Brekke-Read said in her email.

Establishments would be subject to “common sense health and safety regulations” and to periodic inspections. Fees would fund the cost of inspections and enforcement, and collected annually through the business and professions renewal process

The ordinance would require all affected long-stay hotels/motels to submit to transient occupancy taxes or obtain a SRO permit.

The exact cost of an SRO permit hasn’t been determined yet.

The ordinance would also require designated SRO units to have a bathroom, a kitchen facility with refrigerator, kitchen sink, countertop, two-burner stove and sufficient electrical capacity (in case of a lack of a common kitchen facility). It also imposes building requirements similar to other residential buildings in South Lake Tahoe.

Brekke-Read said a city council subcommittee used other cities’ ordinances as a starting point for the proposed ordinance, including San Francisco, San Jose, Pasadena, Riverside, and Oakley.

“The subcommittee also used the City’s existing multi-family housing inspection program and regulations as a framework to provide consistency in our programs,” Brekke-Read said.

She added if the ordinance does eventually get the city council’s approval, it would “will allow the long-term hotel/motel owners to declare their properties, or portions of their properties, are being used for long-term use and give them the opportunity to provide facilities, such as cooking facilities, for their occupants/tenants.”

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