Douglas County vacation rental ordinance to see updates |

Douglas County vacation rental ordinance to see updates

by Amy Alonzo

Short-term, online vacation rentals of private properties could have a place in the valley, Douglas County commissioners said Tuesday during a special meeting.

Commissioners discussed allowing vacation rentals in the valley through online sites such as Airbnb and ordinance changes that would strengthen the enforcement of vacation rental permits issued for the county's portion of Tahoe Township.

Under current code vacation rentals are only allowed in Tahoe Township. There is a $100 application fee and an annual $75 renewal fee for permits.

The county's current vacation rental code was last updated in 2005, according to Mimi Moss, community development director. The code applies to properties that are rented out for 28 days or less.

A total of about 400 permits are applied for or renewed each year. Of the 400 issued, less than 10 are currently in violation for issues such as trash or parking problems, she said.

Commissioner Nancy McDermid said when vacation rentals came into the Skyland area they "nearly wrecked the neighborhood."

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County Manager Larry Werner suggested Douglas apply the same regulations in the valley and Tahoe Township. South Lake Tahoe requires inspections of all units before permits are issued and prior to permit renewals. Property owners within 300 feet are notified of the permit request and the zoning administrator hears the item at a public hearing.

In Douglas County, homes are not inspected prior to permits being issued. Permits are issued based strictly on a homeowner filling out an application.

Werner also suggested increasing the application and renewal fee to increase enforcement capacities.

"Right now it's very cumbersome," he said. "We have a hard time getting compliance."

Several people wrote in letters or spoke in support of allowing online rentals in the valley.

"I am absolutely for allowing people to offer the Airbnb service here in the Carson Valley," wrote realtor Kelly Adams. "As for the claim that these types of units cause more traffic, I have lived literally two doors down from a home offering an Airbnb unit in the back for over a year and it does not increase or affect traffic at all."

There are more than 300 county properties listed on the online rental site Airbnb, Moss said — most are in Tahoe Township.

County staff will review input offered Tuesday and bring the ordinance back to commissioners at a later date.