EDC supervisors approve VHR ordinance amendments, creation of advisory committee

TAHOMA, Calif. — The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a motion to amend four elements within the vacation home rental ordinance and also approved the creation of an advisory committee to explore more potential adjustments.

The board held a 2-hour discussion that included, among other things, complaints, the current cap on the amount of rentals, clustering in neighborhoods, occupancy limits and, maybe most important, enforcement. 

“We know that within our communities they (VHRs) are disruptive,” said District 5 Supervisor Brooke Laine. “The public is anxious to be a part of this to build a better program.”

The county has 827 permitted VHRs in the unincorporated areas of the Tahoe Basin, from Tahoma on the West Shore (109), to Meeks Bay to South Shore (718). The number of VHRs dropped below the cap of 900 in October, 2021. There are 122 active permits on the west slope, from the top of Echo Summit west through the county.

Brendan Ferry, the county’s deputy director of Tahoe planning and stormwater, gave the board a presentation on the state of the ordinance and possible amendments.

The possible amendments included compliance with the defensible space ordinance, reduce cap of 900 in the Tahoe Basin, increase fine amounts for health and safety violations, modify hosted rental requirements, include additional permit suspension options, enhance enforcement and clarify transient occupancy tax payment responsibility.

Of the suggested amendments, the board felt comfortable approving four items and felt others needed to be discussed before moving forward.

The approved items include compliance with vegetation management ordinance, increase the fine amounts for health and safety violations, include additional permit suspension options and allow the local contact to be decertified.

Other items will be discussed through an advisory committee that will be established by Laine, who will be the single decision maker. The committee will include staff and stakeholders.

One item Laine will be sure to bring up is enforcement. She mentioned during the meeting Tuesday that VHRs may be the biggest problem in the basin right now and suggested the transient occupancy tax, which voters in November approved raising from 10 to 14%, might be an option to cover code enforcement. She said that, currently, there is one code enforcement officer for the basin who doesn’t work weekends, when most of the complaints are received.

In 2022, there were 212 reported complaints, which supervisors felt may be under reported, and 97 code cases cited, including 15 administrative, 42 for noise, two for occupancy, seven for signs and 31 for being unpermitted.

Fines collected for 71 cases in 2022 totaled $36,250. The other cases were not settled in 2022 and those numbers will go towards this year’s totals.

The county may do away with the cap restriction as the 500-foot buffer around rentals have thinned out rentals and eliminated clustering in neighborhoods. There is a big waitlist, including 166 from Meeks Bay to South Shore, 34 in Tahoma and 13 on the west slope.

The board and county staff also feel that hosted rental requirements need to be “tightened up,” said Ferry. Currently there are 95 in the county.

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