Proposed lakewide vacation rules don’t match jurisdictions
While a task force continues work to determine the future of vacation home rentals in Douglas County, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is working on new rules that would include penalties for jurisdictions that failed to comply.
Douglas County, South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, Placer County and Washoe County each would have to maintain at least a 90 percent score or risk losing residential allocations under the new rules, if adopted later this year by the TRPA governing board.
Of the 58 practices listed, Douglas County has complied with the most with 29, putting it at about 58 percent compliance. South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County are running around 45 percent.
The agency’s planning committee voted 8-5 on Oct. 9 to forward the guidelines without revisions despite protests from Douglas County and Incline Village.
Incline Village General Improvement District Board Trustee Tim Callicrate said the plan was premature, pointing out that Incline and Crystal Bay were already built out.
Douglas County representative Louis Cariola also was against the new guidelines.
He said Douglas has a defined structure and a fully implemented, fleshed-out program.
“To take this punitive approach to Douglas County is not necessarily fair,” Cariola said. “I support Mr. Callicrate’s comments in not supporting this at this time.”
The comments were different coming from South Lake Tahoe speakers where wounds remain fresh from a divisive election in November 2018. Measure T passed which banned vacation home rentals outside the tourist core, among other things.
Peggy Bourland, of the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group who spearheaded the effort to put Measure T on the ballot, said the new guidelines are years late.
“Today’s proposal is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Bourland said. “This problem could have been avoided 15 years ago when TRPA established its standards. They are called residential allocations for a reason. Not for rentals and large-scale lodging properties. TRPA failed to follow through on their own policies and have caused the negative reaction you are hearing from the public today. The solution came through a citizens ballot.”
But a lawsuit was filed by an anti-Measure T group and the issue is headed to court after a city rally for a compromise between the two sides failed.
Mark Salmon, a local real estate agent who advocated against Measure T, asked the commission how much TRPA really wants to dip their feet into short term rentals, saying it’s an issue that should be handled through local government.
That thought was echoed by Pat Davison, government affairs manager for Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe.
He stressed that residential allocation means a lot to his jurisdiction, and that local government needs to maintain control without incurring a penalty.
“TRPA, it seems, has become the STR battleground,” Davison said. “What’s happening at TRPA is happening more intensely at the local level. When the rubber hits the road at the local level, we want local decision makers to have the power, not TRPA.”
The guidelines head to TRPA’s Regional Plan Implementation Committee later this month. If passed by RPIC, it would then go to the full governing board but TRPA Public Information Officer Chris Larson told the Tribune it has not been determined whether the governing board would get it in October or November.
The new guidelines are broken down in three areas, enforcement, locational and operational, with points awarded for each category.
Locational tends to be the least complied area, with Douglas only having one of the 13 practices with one in the works. Both South Lake and El Dorado County have two, but they’re different ones.
No one has capped the number rentals or the number of nights per year or month a site may be rented.
Basically if there is an undeveloped lot, an allocation must be obtained by the whatever jurisdiction it is in before it can be developed. No allocation, no new development.
About two dozen from all shores of Lake Tahoe attended the meeting Wednesday morning, and most took their turns at the podium during the 3 ½-hour meeting.
The commissioners also engaged in a lengthy discussion and not all agreed to move forward with the guidelines without revisions. The vote was 8-5.
“We don’t even have a plan adopted over there yet,” Callicrate said. “As far as Incline Village and Crystal Bay, we’d like to have our area plan in place before we adopt this.”
TRPA staff and community members, a working group, have collaborated for the past six months or so in preparing guidelines to add a third criterion to its Performance Review System for the future release of residential allocations.
The other two are annual residential permit review and code compliance audit and total maximum daily load implementation.
Callicrate also had issue with locational strategy saying there was no real town center and added Incline and Crystal Bay are already built out.
“I don’t know how this will all fit,” Callicrate said.
The public comment period opened and a steady stream of speakers went to the podium.
Incline residents all appreciated the new guidelines as a start, but they’d like to see TRPA take over and bring the hammer down on zoning and enforcement. They also expressed frustration at Washoe County and what they feel has been a lack of action.