Judge rules against Vacation Home Rental petition

A judge upheld Douglas County commissioners’ finding that a petition to change the ordinance on vacation home rentals was insufficient.

On Monday morning, Senior Judge Bill Maddox ruled against the petitioners, saying that County Clerk-Treasurer Amy Burgans was justified in rejecting the signatures that she did.

Maddox ruled from the bench after hearing from petitioners’ attorney Nancy Avazino Gilbert and Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory.

The burden of proof was on petitioners that the county’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

There is the possibility that petitioners will appeal Maddox’s decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, but timing is a factor if they hope to get it on the general election ballot by June 28.

Gilbert and petition committee member Jeanne Shizuru appeared in court for the petitioners.

Gregory, Burgans and County Manager Jenifer Davidson were seated at the county’s table.

Gilbert argued that state law didn’t require the clerks to check on addresses once they’d confirmed that signatures matched.

She said county commissioners didn’t ask for more information before rejecting the petition as insufficient, quoting Commissioner Danny Tarkanian’s questioning of Burgans and Gregory at the meeting.

She also said the petitions didn’t require the full notarization as asserted by the Clerk-Treasurer, since Shizuru was the notary.

Maddox asked Gilbert why the petitioners didn’t just fully notarize the petitions before submitting them.

Gilbert responded that it was obvious that Shizuru was signing the documents.

She said the commission’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

Gregory argued that commissioners conducted a three-hour hearing and that all the issues with the petitions were caused by the committee.

Committee members conducted an audit of the signatures and added addresses on some of them after they were signed.

Maddox agreed with Gregory that the Nevada Constitution requires that petitions be notarized and upheld the county’s decision.

“I am very proud of the work conducted by my office,” Burgans said. “This further ruling solidifies that the procedures used in my office were conducted with integrity and careful consideration to protect the process provided under the law.”

Spokeswoman Cynthia Mohiuddin said the committee has yet to decide its next steps.

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A hearing to determine the fate of a petition that would eliminate vacation home rentals at Lake Tahoe but allow them in East Fork Township is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday.

Senior Judge Bill Maddox is scheduled to hear an appeal of the petition’s insufficiency in Douglas County District Court.

Supporters are hoping to get a favorable ruling before the June 28 deadline to get the initiative on the November ballot.

Any of the petition supporters who hoped to hear any of the candidates for Douglas County commissioner back a ban were disappointed.

The closest any of them came at the candidate forum was District 3 candidate Mike Tanner’s declaration that he believed everything should go to a vote of the people.

Commissioner Danny Tarkanian reiterated his support of a ban north of Cave Rock. Tarkanian signed the petition and voted to overturn its insufficiency.

He told the crowd he believes vacation home rentals are appropriate closer to Stateline.

District 5 Candidate Nathan Tolbert agreed with most of the panel that the county should let the VHR ordinance work.

While voting to ban vacation home rentals north of Cave Rock, Commissioner Mark Gardner supports leaving the ordinance alone for a while.

Last week, the Vacation Home Rental Advisory Board oversaw the drawing of lots for permits in Lincoln Estates, where residents said difficult access requires a reduction.

Douglas County has been debating how to deal with vacation home rentals since 2017 when commissioners sought to find a way regulate them.

The original iteration of the current ordinance was implemented in July 15, 2021, and was accompanied by the first of a handful of lawsuits that have been filed at one time or another.


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