Truckee adopts changes to short-term rental rules
Truckee has adopted amendments to its short-term rental ordinance, including rules on how many registration certificates will be issued, rules for new homeowners in the area, and increased penalties.
Town Council unanimously approved the changes at its meeting Tuesday.
“We’ve been listening through so many different means — our community wide outreach survey where we had 1,500 people respond, hundreds of public comments that we’ve received before and at various council meetings … and our coffee chats and our stakeholder groups and numerous informal conversations with our constituents,” said Mayor Courtney Henderson. “And I think we recognize that not everyone will necessary be satisfied this evening with whatever the outcome ends up being. That does not mean we’re not listening.”
CAP ON SHORT-TERM RENTALS
Truckee has now adopted a cap of 1,255 short-term rental registration certificates, which was the number of active registered short-term rentals at the end of 2021. While town staff says the cap is a tool to prevent oversaturation of short-term rentals, others like property management companies argue a cap hinders their business, won’t address the housing crisis, and could potentially drive visitors to other areas around Tahoe. Airbnb also sent a letter to Town Council, stating short-term rentals could possibly be part of solving the housing problem in the area.
“While (short-term rentals) did not cause the affordability crisis, they can be part of the solution by generating much needed tax revenue to build new affordable housing units,” wrote Toral Patel, policy manager, US West – Airbnb. “We strongly encourage the Town Council to follow the example of countless jurisdictions across the US, and exempt primary residence (short-term rental) operators.”
The council issued no such exemption.
Truckee has a total of 13,674 housing units. The town is in need of 2,469 housing units, most of which are studios, one-, and two-bedroom units.
Truckee will also begin phasing out short-term rentals in accessory dwelling units and multi-family dwelling units. Units with an existing registration certificate will be allowed to renew, though no new registration certificates will be issued. Town Council directed staff to include the amendment as a tool to help preserve the availability of accessory dwelling and multifamily units for full-time residents because they “tend to be the most affordable,” according to staff’s report.
In order to prevent buyers from purchasing a home as an investment property for the purpose of short-term renting it, Town Council adopted a 365-day waiting period after a home sale before the new owner can register the unit as a short-term rental.
PENALTIES AND FEES
Fines for those in violation of the short-term rental ordinance have increased as well.
A first violation of the ordinance will now jump from $500 to $1,500. A second violation doubles those numbers, and subsequent violations, which were $1,000, will now increase to $5,000.
Short-term rental operators have 30 days to respond to a town inspection request, and may be charged a fee for the inspection.
Staff clarified that rental operators will be given an opportunity to correct any violations before fines are issued. In cases where renters are creating disturbances such as loud noises, the owner will be notified and will have 30 minutes to respond, and then an hour to correct the issue. Otherwise, a compliance officer will be sent to the property, at which point a fine could be issued.
Truckee first adopted a short-term rental ordinance on Oct. 13, 2020. Requirements went into effect Jan. 1, 2021. In September, the Town Council adopted an urgency ordinance to establish a 45-day moratorium on the issuance of new transient occupancy registration certificates in response to a significant shortage of housing that is affordable to the local workforce.
Then, in February, Town Council received a presentation on recommended changes to the short-term rental ordinance, and provided direction to staff to make an ordinance update.
The final renewal deadline for 2021 certificate holders is May 15. Town staff indicated that roughly 100 of the 1,255 registration certificates are currently available, but some of those could be renewed by the May deadline.
Applications will open for new registration and the wait list on June 13. From there, an annual registration deadline of Dec. 31 will go into effect.
This summer, council will consider a new workforce housing incentive program by making use of a limited pool of short-term rental registration certificates as a way to incentivize the private sector to contribute to workforce housing. Potentially, a developer could approach the town to propose deed restricting one or more housing units for workforce housing in exchange for the ability to access an agreed-to number of short-term rental certificates.
In July, staff will provide the town with a quarterly assessment of the short-term rental program. In spring 2023, the first bi-annual review of the program will take place.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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