VHR panel keeps plugging away at new code

Members of an advisory committee spent another five hours working on the code governing vacation home rentals on Wednesday, knowing their work could end up on the cutting room floor.

They made it to the tenth of 23 pages in the code revision that they were tasked with, adjourning after a brief preview on the rules for density of rentals at Lake Tahoe.

Chairwoman Mickie Hempler said the goal is to get the ordinance revisions approved by March so the planning commission and county commission can review them.

“We have a lot to think about and we have a very short goalpost to get round 1 into the planning commission,” she said.

Vacation rentals are not permitted in the East Fork Township, which includes the county outside of the Tahoe Basin.

During closing public comment property manager Heidi Gunter summed up the dilemma the advisory panel faces as it continues to work on the code.

“All of your hard work could be thrown out the window and that’s very frustrating,” she said.

Density could be the most challenging portion of the panel’s task, not least because Commissioner Danny Tarkanian is seeking a hearing on how the rentals should be distributed at Lake Tahoe.

Tarkanian has expressed frustration that his plan to ban the rentals north of Cave Rock has yet to receive a hearing before county commissioners.

He raised the issue again on Monday in voting against Mark Gardner as chairman and Wes Rice as vice chairman.

According to Tarkanian’s board recap issued in October after a meeting where an effort to ban VHRs by Commissioner Walt Nowosad failed, he has been seeking to get his proposal on the commissioners’ agenda for months.

He said he was told by Gardner that the timing wasn’t right to discuss the issue yet.

On Wednesday, the panel seemed to agree with the chairman.

Vice Chairman Lauren Romain said some of the proposals she’d heard frightened her.

“If you reduce one area it’s going to put more pressure on other areas,” she said on Wednesday.

“We have a little more experience of the neighborhoods here,” panel member Patty Graf said. The BOCC is looking at everything and is cutting across the board.”

The question of density is important to neighbors and vacation home rental owners.

There is a cap of 600 Tier 2 and 3 rentals at the Lake, but that cap doesn’t apply to Tier 1 rentals.

The panel is discussing the possibility of having public hearings for each of the 39 neighborhoods at Lake Tahoe in an effort to get public comment on what density should be in each.

Any density rule applied in the new code wouldn’t affect existing permits, attorney AJ Hames said.

“I’d remind the board that we don’t know if either would get past the county commission,” he said.

So far, county commissioners have agreed with the advisory board on appeals for denials.


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