Sprinkler ordinance debate continued

It's back to the drawing board for a new ordinance in Douglas County requiring the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems for any building expanded to greater than 3,600 square feet of habitable space.

All new buildings, regardless of size, would also require an automatic sprinkler system.

That's the latest rendition of a proposed amendment to Douglas County code presented to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, a debate involving homeowners and Realtors on one side, and firefighters on the other.

Lakeridge resident Don Alling estimated a 110-foot planned bathroom remodel would put him over that limit and ultimately cost him another $75,000 to $125,000 for the sprinkler system that would cover his entire home.

"You're driving people underground for improving their houses," he said.

Rick Nicholson, assistant chief for the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District, said he was recovering from knee surgery, the injury acquired years ago while fighting a fire in a building that was not sprinklered.

Most plans he sees for the Lake Tahoe area are well over 5,000 square feet and as presented, this ordinance offers little protection for those in smaller homes, Nicholson said.

"We need to protect everyone," he said.

The sprinkler ordinance would dramatically increase the cost of homes relative to surrounding areas, according to several real estate agents who spoke at Thursday's meeting.

The debate is taking place among Lake Tahoe residents, but the ordinance will cover the whole county and needs to apply across the board, rather than drawing the line at 3,600-square-foot homes, said Realtor Pam Lusby.

"Many homes in the Valley are under 3,600 square feet," she said.

Commission Chairman Kelly Kite directed staff to bring multiple versions of the ordinance to the board for discussion.

That proposal was passed by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Nancy McDermid casting the one dissenting vote and Dave Brady absent.

n Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Adam Jensen contributed to this story.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment