South Tahoe council OKs ban on multi-family property vacation rentals |

South Tahoe council OKs ban on multi-family property vacation rentals

Adam Jensen
City of South Lake Tahoe officials continued discussion on its vacation rental ordinance Tuesday, May 17. Several changes were approved on first reading, including a prohibition on multi-family properties as short-term vacation rentals. Mayor Wendy David said this change is meant to address the South Shore's affordable housing crisis.
File Photo |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A prohibition on multi-family properties continuing as vacation home rentals drew heated criticism, but was ultimately approved by the South Lake Tahoe City Council Tuesday, May 17.

The council voted 4-0 to approve several changes to the city’s oft-controversial Vacation Home Rental Ordinance. Councilman Tom Davis recused himself from the discussion because he draws income from vacation home rentals.

Tuesday’s revisions included clarifications on how the ordinance interacts with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules, changes to allowed occupancy based on the number of paved parking spaces, a prohibition on self-limited occupancy and modifications to fines to reflect higher amounts for multiple violations, as well as the prohibition on multi-family units continuing as vacation home rentals.

“Condominiums and timeshares would continue to be allowed as VHRs,” wrote Hilary Roverud, the city’s deputy director of development services, in a staff report. “Existing VHR permits on properties with two or more units on one parcel will be allowed to continue until their next renewal date and then won’t be able to be renewed. There will be no VHR permits for multi-family properties one year from the effective date of this ordinance.”

Several people at Tuesday’s meeting said they own a parcel with two buildings on it and said either they or a caretaker live in one unit, with the other unit being used as a vacation rental. Each said they have had positive experiences with the setup and such properties should be allowed to continue as vacation rentals.

Asha Whipple, who said she owns one such property, criticized the new rules as “broad” and “sweeping.”

Several people said that having a second unit as a vacation home rental is how they afford to live at Lake Tahoe. One man said his and his wife’s retirement plans are at risk because of the lost income that will result from his four-unit property not being allowed to continue as a vacation home rental.

Councilman Austin Sass contended people can still use the properties for long-term rentals.

“It’s not like we’re wiping out the income completely from that owner,” Sass said.

He said eliminating multi-family properties from the vacation home rental pool is a smart move because it will keep more affordable housing available to renters who live and work at the South Shore.

Mayor Wendy David said the city is among the areas experiencing a “significant crisis” in the availability of affordable housing.

“It’s not just our community. This is region-wide. This is nationwide,” David said.

The council will hold a second reading of Tuesday’s changes at its June 7 meeting. If the council approves the rules at that meeting, the rules will take effect 30 days after the second reading.

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