Opponents of a ban on vacation home rentals north of Cave Rock State Park released an email between County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian and Glenbrook homeowner Larry Ruvo listing strategies for implementing the ordinance that included recalling fellow commissioners.
Of the three sitting commissioners up for election this year, Tarkanian is the only one who hasn’t decided on whether he will seek re-election, he said Friday. Commissioner Mark Gardner announced his campaign in The Record-Courier in January.
Commissioner Walt Nowosad told fellow commissioners on Jan. 18 he wasn’t running for re-election.
Filing for nonjudicial office is March 4-15.
Tarkanian defended the emails, saying it was the only way he could get a hearing on the ordinance that he proposed in October 2022.
“I specifically asked Chairman Gardner to have it placed on the agenda before the end of the year, so that the one commissioner leaving the board, who was against VHRs in residential neighborhoods, could vote on it,” he said when asked about the emails on Friday. “Yet, six months before, Chairman Gardner placed on the agenda for a vote Commissioner (Walt) Nowosad’s VHR proposal to ban VHRs in all neighborhoods. I voted against it because I think they should be in tourist areas even if currently zoned residential.”
Tarkanian told Ruvo the best option in what he referred to as a “plan of attack” was to persuade Commissioner Sharla Hales to support his ordinance.
“I think it will be tough to get her support,” he said. “I am working on her daily sending her emails from frustrated families living next to VHRs.”
A second option listed by Tarkanian was a three-prong effort that started with suing the county and then bringing protesters to Minden.
“Second, file a recall against both (Mark) Gardner and (Wes) Rice and at the same time have residents protest Gardner outside of meetings and in public comment. Rice won’t be affected by this, but Gardner desperately wants to be liked. He is also up for re-election in two years. We will get a big-name person to say they are going to run against him, as well.”
The third prong came to fruition in August when a referendum to ban vacation home rentals at Lake Tahoe was filed.
“There is a couple who has been successful with two past referendums who would lead this movement along with myself,” Tarkanian wrote to Ruvo, apparently referring to Dave Nelson and Jeanne Shizuru.
“Not the best solution but better than nothing,” Tarkanian said of a referendum. “We get (the) referendum on the ballot. It must pass in two elections. I have no doubt it will pass easily in both. However, this is a four-year process.”
While changes to the state constitution do require two popular votes to be enacted, that’s not true of county code.
When contacted by The Record-Courier, Gardner declined to comment on the emails.
Hales said she does what she feels is best for Douglas County residents.
“I study the issues, which are often complex, then make decisions based on facts, good governance and sound policy,” she said. “I am a friend to all and will listen to constituents, industry groups, staff, and others, but I am beholden to none. I will continue to advocate with my fellow commissioners for decisions based on sound analysis and the interests of all residents free from backroom political deals.”
Rice said he saw the issue as part of the continued attack on the Tahoe Blue Events Center.
“Unfortunately, there are those who would like to destroy the Event Center and the best way to do so is to cut off the funding,” Rice said. “The funding happens to be the bed tax on VHR’s. Unfortunately, two of our county commissioners seem hell bent on doing just that.”
Petitioners argue that approving the ban on vacation rentals at the Lake wouldn’t cost the county anything. Around $800,000 raised in VHR permit fees is spent enforcing the program.
Glenbrook vacation home rental operators affected by the ban, which would take place on Dec. 31, 2024, are suing Douglas County.
The rentals are currently only allowed in Tahoe Township. Residents of East Fork Township wishing to temporarily rent their property must obtain approval for a bed and breakfast, which requires them to remain on the property while renting.