County approves vacation rental revisions

Addressing concerns about the density of vacation home rentals will be the next challenge for the panel charged with enforcing Douglas County’s regulations.

On Thursday, county commissioners voted 3-2 to approve revisions to the ordinance governing the rentals in Tahoe Township.

The ordinance does not extend to the East Fork Township, where vacation home rentals are prohibited.

“I’d prefer to get this done sooner than later,” said commissioner Wes Rice who is the only member of the board to live at Lake Tahoe. “I think we’ve beaten this to death and I’m ready for an ordinance.”

Commissioner Walt Nowosad pointed out that there was a lot of red in the draft ordinance and sought to table the issue for 30 days but couldn’t get a second.

Delaying or significantly amending the ordinance on Thursday would have required the county to go back to another introduction, but would not have resulted in it going back to the planning commission or the VHR committee.

Commissioners Mark Gardner, Rice and Sharla Hales voted to approve the revised ordinance. Nowosad and commissioner Danny Tarkanian voted against.

“The VHR Board still has some tasks to complete,” Gardner said. “The biggest concern I have is the density levels. I hope you make adjustments at Tahoe Village.”

Under the new ordinance Tahoe Village has a density limit of 40 percent due to the number of time shares and other rentals in the community. However, there are people who live in the community and would like that reduced.

Gardner said he would want any reduction to occur due to natural attrition.

There was some public debate over the requirement to hire a property manager in written comments with some VHR owners calling it onerous while another said they felt it was necessary.

From the beginning, the county indicated its vacation home rental regulations would evolve over time.

Vacation home rentals have been allowed in the Tahoe Township since the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency allowed them, requiring Douglas to enact an ordinance in 2005.

People had rented their properties to vacationers at Lake Tahoe for decades, sometimes with the help of a property manager, but often without.

The advent of online booking services around 2008 started seeing a rapid increase in vacation rentals, and subsequent issues with renters.

A decade later, Douglas County, like popular vacation spots across the country, was facing increased public pressure to regulate rentals.

In 2018, county commissioners debated expanding code enforcement and regulations even as neighboring South Lake Tahoe residents narrowly voted to kick vacation rentals out of residential areas.

Three years later the county approved a new ordinance, though it was challenged in federal court which limited some of its enforcement.

Negotiations with the VHR owners resulted in modifying the ordinance and that settlement included putting the VHR Advisory Board to work on the revisions approved in part on Thursday.


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