Placer County officials discuss changes to short-term rentals
The short-term rental moratorium in Placer County will expire March 31.
That gave people at an online town hall last week plenty to talk about.
“…we had an explosion of what people felt was of over-tourism in the region that had been growing probably for years, but was compounded with the escape of people from other locations to their mountain homes, as well as short-term rentals exploding,” Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson said. “It is certainly impacting the economics of the area when the housing crisis increases from 50 to 100% in one year. It drove my own son out of a house. It drove many people out of their houses during the pandemic because people put them on the market to cash in.”
Stephanie Holloway, Tahoe operations manager for Placer County, began the discussion on short-term rental ordinances at the Jan. 6 town hall.
“We’ve done a lot of listening and a lot of talking with the community over the last couple of months, boiling down the key issues here,” Holloway said. “Concerns over workforce housing and do STRs have a connection to that overall crisis that we’re all feeling in our community.”
The board hired an economic consultant with BAE Urban Economics in order to analyze data and discern whether there is a connection between short-term rental activity and affordable housing.
The consultant determined there is a possible connection between short-term rentals and long-term housing pricing and availability.
It was also determined that, concerning the short-term rentals that do exist, most are rented out for an average of 250 nights per year, and are only occupied 103 nights per year — producing approximately $35,320 annually, according to the data presented by Holloway.
The present day inventory of short-term rentals in the region makes up roughly 25% of the current housing stock.
Crystal Jacobsen, assistant director of the Community Development Resources Agency, discussed code amendments aimed at eliminating barriers to both housing and redevelopment in town centers in the Tahoe Basin.
Changes will be effective starting March 31, though officials haven’t yet finalized which ones will be included. Supervisors are scheduled to vote on the changes Jan. 25.
One of the proposed changes includes modifying the exemption language so that all residential properties would be subject to the code. However, it would not apply to hotels, motels, timeshares, and some condo hotels.
“Currently this is an area of the code that has been really hard for us to implement. It’s very gray and it’s just been problematic,” Jacobsen said.
It was also proposed to increase fire protection standards for short-term rentals, which would require fire inspections at the time of permit application.
One notable proposal was to have a limit of one short-term rental per parcel, which would apply to multi- and single-family units, but not to condos.
“The limitation we believe is in alignment with the state’s goals on housing — so that’s one of the reasons we’re proposing this. We also believe that limiting one STR per parcel would really help potentially on the on-site management side of things,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen also mentioned an increase in penalties and fines for short-term rental nuisances, which may now be anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000.
Lastly, the board discussed whether to make short-term rental stays a minimum of 30 nights per year.
“What this would do is a way to incentivize folks that have a permit to be renting, so they’re not sitting on permits,” Jacobsen said. “So the idea here is that if the board proposes a cap, this would allow permit turnover so folks can’t just sit on a permit if they’re not using it. It can be turned over for the next person to come in and get a permit.”
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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