SLT vacation rental ordinance to change Oct. 1


By Kathryn Reed

Those wanting a vacation home rental permit in South Lake Tahoe under the current rules have an extra month to get one.

The City Council today approved the controversial ordinance that will take effect Oct. 1. This ordinance only affects VHRs in residential neighborhoods, of which there are about 1,200 parcels.

Ten people spoke at the Aug. 4 meeting about the rentals. This was the second reading of the ordinance, which is usually a formality on the consent agenda without changes. It was pulled for discussion, which took more than 90 minutes.

“The City Council is making up this ordinance as they go. The council doesn’t understand the real estate industry and how escrow works,” Natalie Yanish, South Tahoe Association of Realtors board member, told Lake Tahoe News. “It’s unfortunate that they feel these bureaucratic processes and top down government tactics will work in the real world.”

Mayor Hal Cole said the purpose of the ordinance is to deal with the abuse of the industry, reel in houses being built purely as a vacation rental, and not to put anyone out of business.

The new ordinance requires notification within a 300-foot radius of a home seeking a vacation rental permit. Anyone, though, can voice an objection. However, the hearing administrator will have discretion as to whose comments carry more weight. Staff and electeds repeatedly said not liking a VHR is not a reason to have a permit denied.

If an issue is identified, it’s possible an applicant could mitigate the problem and then the permit would be granted.

To deal with the mandated inspections – which are required for new permits starting Sept. 1 and existing ones’ permit holders when their permit comes up for renewal – the city will be hiring staff. It’s expected three to five inspections will be done a day. The city will have two inspectors dedicated to VHRs.

The fee schedule related to VHRs was also changed. The VHR inspection fee will be $133. It was $160.

Appealing a denied permit will cost $1,500 for most people. Those living within 300 feet of the property will be charged $250 to appeal. According to the staff report, that expense includes “15 hours of staff time including preparation of reports by zoning administrator for appeal to Planning Commission or City Council, compilation of facts regarding the decisions, review by mid-level and senior management official, public notification and public reporting requirements and conducting the public hearings.”

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Comments (28)
  1. Dogula says - Posted: August 4, 2015

    Revenue enhancement. Blatant.

  2. Biggerpicture says - Posted: August 4, 2015

    Dogula can you point out to us what you’re referring to? The way I read the article the price of the VHR inspection fee was lowered by $27.

  3. old long skiis says - Posted: August 4, 2015

    Glad to hear the city is looking into the VHR issue. Lets return our neighborhoods into being just residential areas and not hotel areas with that one house crammed full of visitors and cars blocking the street while they are partying till sunrise.Putting their trash out 5 days before pick up day, drawing in the bears.
    Tourism, for many of us, is our livelyhood, and I grew up with that.
    Lets ask our guests to be a little more respectful of our fulltime residents who work here or are retired. We are tired of the noise and cleaning up their trash that the animals have scattered into the street and neighbors yards once they go back home.
    Take care,Old Long Skis

  4. duke of prunes says - Posted: August 4, 2015

    ‘The VHR inspection fee will be $133. It was $160.’
    Interpreted as:
    “Revenue enhancement. Blatant.”

    Intellectual deficiency. Obvious.

  5. Hmmm... says - Posted: August 4, 2015

    Lib’turian math don’t need yo add up right…it just needs to blame du gub’mint.

  6. Watch Dog says - Posted: August 5, 2015

    Bigger Picture and Duke of Prunes, interesting that you say that fees have been reduced when it used to cost $125 for a property owner to get a permit, and now it will cost $525 PLUS the cost of increased permit fees – $600 per year for a 4 bedroom – and that before now there was NO inspection fee. Also, it will cost a property owner $1300-$1500 if they want to appeal a decision. If you do the math – the cost to a 4 bedroom homeowner went from $125 to $1,125 OR $2,425-$2,625… an EXPONENTIAL price increase. Not to mention the huge increase in workload for City staff… how will they handle that when they have demonstrated that they cannot handle enforcement of their nuisance ordinances???

  7. mrs.t says - Posted: August 5, 2015

    Amen, OLS. I’ll add to your list: brush fires caused by illegal fireworks and not being able to park in front of our own houses because there are double the permitted number of cars and people in a vacation rental

  8. Steven says - Posted: August 5, 2015

    Those fees are nothing. How much rent do these homes charge, a 4 bedroom that is allowed 12 people probably charges at least $200 per night, more on holidays. If anything, fees should be higher and fines should be equal to at least one nights rent. Stop letting these illegal hotels ruin our neighborhoods while giving their owners a nice profit.

  9. old long skiis says - Posted: August 5, 2015

    VHR’s are helpfull and harmfull to our community all at the same time.
    They do bring in money and people who enjoy our place we call home. They also bring in the party crowd with drugs and booze consumption and everything else in between.
    Some are pretty good folks,others? maybe not so much good. Party on folks. OLS

  10. dumbfounded says - Posted: August 6, 2015

    Rumor has it that some good news occurred in the county last weekend. There was a very large party who were annoying the neighborhood at a VHR in Meyers, the sheriff came and evicted them. Good work officers!

  11. Kits Carson says - Posted: August 6, 2015

    dumbfounded: That IS good news. I like it! They will also lose their deposit. What street was this on?

  12. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: August 6, 2015

    The SLT City Council began their most recent rounds of discussions on Vacation Home Rentals in November 2014 and since that time this topic has appeared on their agenda 7 more times. When the local VHR Management and Real Estate “Professionals” have addressed the City Council, and I’m using the word “Professionals” in the most negligible context possible related to the majority of the people who spoke, they demanded their way, they whined, they threatened, they berated anyone with a differing opinion, they insulted the City’s staff and City Council Members, they insulted and name-called those in opposition to their position, they filibustered those meetings in an attempt to wear down anyone who doesn’t agree with them, they showed no willingness to compromise in any manner, and they never budged off their “take no prisoners” attitude. The materials distributed by the Vacation Rental Alliance contained blatant lies and falsehoods which I now don’t find particularly surprising after watching their representatives at the City Council meetings, and I am now convinced that the only way most of those unprofessional dolts could make a buck is by lying to and cheating all the uninformed off the hill people with whom they do business.

    After listening to those local “Professionals” and watching their behavior, I hope the residents of SLT take the matter of VHRs to the ballot and the voters in this community eliminate them.

    You go Jerry Goodman, Peggy Bourland, and Tahoe Neighborhoods Group.

  13. LeanForward says - Posted: August 6, 2015

    4-mer, I agree. I was woken up at 4 am last Saturday to screaming and cheering from another house in my neighborhood. As we all know sound travels so I couldn’t find the house. Between my sleep addled brain, and my poorly chosen clothes, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the rental that was making all the noise.

    Thank goodness it was Saturday.

  14. duane Wallace says - Posted: August 6, 2015

    The issue pitted our community against each other. There was no reason to conduct the meetings that way. I guess I should start by saying I don’t own a VHR nor do I have any financial; gain of any kind. This issue has just really bothered me in the way it was brought through the system and in how much damage has been done to the wrong people in order to try to fix the problem. EVERYONE on the two sides created by the Council agreed that those who are too loud, too late or too messy need to be immediately confronted just as any neighborhood disturbance. The problem is that as Doug Rosner stated “they used a sledge hammer to kill a fly.” And the ordinance punishes the innocent. I still remember a funny line in a movie. The Grandmother broke wind and the great dane dog whined and ran away. The father turned to the guest and said ” when grandma farts we kick the dog.” This is a similar analogy. If a group of rowdy bachelor party guests keep up the neighborhood ( believe me I have had that happen) THEY should be fined and if they continue they should be evicted. If that rental continues to be a problem the property owner should eventually lose their ability to rent that house out. This ordinance punishes whoever happens to come in the door next. The new buyer who has done nothing to anyone except try to purchase a home has to go to each house within 300 feet and ask them if they can use it as a vacation rental to help pay the mortgage often until they can retire and move in permanently. The whole room broke out in laughter when Council member Sass stated that the experience of sitting in peoples homes over coffee asking them to allow you to have the opportunity to use your home in the way you need would be an opportunity for the neighborhood to bond. The real estate professionals there knew that the opportunity for discrimination of all kinds would arise. What if a person wearing a turban who speaks little English tries to go knock on neighborhood doors. Or what if they have the wrong political sticker on their bumper? Or what if they are disabled or can’t get time away from work so they can spend an unknown amount of time trick or treating in the neighborhood begging for leniency for something they didn’t do. Not only that but anyone even other vacation home owners in the neighborhood could protest. In fact anyone ,even those who live in other distant neighborhoods could protest. It would go to an administrator none of whom have been hired or trained who would use subjective criteria giving different weight to different opinions based upon their own judgment except for knowing how much animosity City Council and staff have shown as an example. It would then go to the Planning Commission and then on to the Council themselves who have shown such even handed justice on on this issue so far. This would cost the new hopeful homebuyer thousands of dollars. Meanwhile an escrow is waiting that needs times and dates to be met for interest rates to be locked in and many other inspections. At this point I must take exception with those who denigrate the real estate brokers and agents. I am not a realtor. However I was for five years two decades ago. Even then the ethics requirements and schooling was very strict. When I was in it there were 6 pages of forms and numerous disclosures. Now It is up to 50 pages of forms and disclosures. I remember escrows that hinged on just a few hundred dollars or whether the interest rate stayed within a quarter point. Now, this arbitrary delay of up to 30 days waiting for hopefully friendly neighbors or someone across town you have never met to decide your fate can and will screw up and kill many escrows. One reason may be that they don’t think your purchase and use will enhance or maintain the neighborhood character The people I saw before the council were scared and angry and frustrated because this felt like a cram down. And though there were many meetings only small changes were made that still left this City with being able to inject themselves into each and every one of your residential home sales or purchases. Once the camels nose is under the tent then I guarantee that now they have access to your personal home purchases that eventually new point of sale roadblocks and or fees will be coming. The economists calculate that one full time job is gained or lost in a community for every two home sales made or lost. Vacation rentals have many more incomes and jobs attached. The Realtors showed that 13 escrows have already been lost or moved to Nevada. The City is going to do a socio economic study heavy on the socio that may or may not understand that jobs are fairly important to the social success of a City. Yet the Council went ahead with the ordinance with the study to follow a year from now. The urgency was that an initiative might be put up to cause the loss of all vacation rentals. I know those initiative folks. They are wonderful citizens who just want peace and quiet. They have legitimate complaints. Rather than enforce the noise and nuisance ordinances aggressively, the City will take months maybe years to get rid of a poorly managed vacation home when it sells and the neighbors protest. How about hiring a security firm with vehicles and cell phones who can answer immediately? In the mean time just as we all have with TRPA we will have jobs lost and families leave when those building mini motels could be kept in check with standard zoning laws. But this ordinance was not passed through the planning commission as state law requires. As if I haven’t beat the point to death, All agreed we needed better more immediate enforcement of zoning, noise and nuisance laws.

  15. tahoe local says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    The problem Duane is that the agents and realtors will not stop until every house in Tahoe is a vacation rental. They tout the rental to prospective buyers as a money making business. Then when it does not work out as the realtor said and the money made does not add up to what was promised the property is then resold. The agents love this turnover. Vacation rentals in my neighborhood are sold and resold every three years. The goose that is laying the golden eggs for these realtors is making many of our neighborhoods unlivable for us permanant residents. I guess we should just move from the basin so these people can make even more money.

  16. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    Mr. Wallace:

    I think your dissertation on this topic is a textbook example of the type of intentional falsehoods and hyperbole that the Vacation Rental Alliance fabricated to frighten people into supporting them so the local VHR Management companies and the local Realtors can continue to have their way at the expense of anyone and everyone else. Your comment that “there was no reason to conduct the meeting that way” should be directed toward the majority of the audience participants who spoke in opposition to the proposed ordinance, because they are the people who repeatedly demonstrated animosity, aggression, rudeness, and total unprofessionalism. I have not yet watched the 90-minute discussion on Consent Agenda Item No. 2 at the August 4th City Council meeting but I can say that I’ve watch every other meeting related to this topic since November 2014, and neither the City staff nor the City Council ever conducted themselves with any degree of animosity as you stated they had. At this point I don’t think I want to watch that discussion because listening to the opponents of this proposed Ordinance is comparable to a forced march. And your ridiculous suggestion that the majority of those audience participants care or could even recognize discriminatory practices is laughable as I don’t think they possess the collective intellect to recognize discrimination. Their conduct and behavior illustrated immature unprofessionalism and it exposed that they care only about themselves and would throw anyone under the bus to get their way.

    I don’t own a VHR nor am I impacted by a VHR at the present, but after witnessing the conduct of those local VHR and Realtor “Professionals”, there isn’t a single individual in that group with whom I would ever consider doing businesses, and I would discourage anyone I know from doing so.

    What a mob.

  17. dumbfounded says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    Zoning law doesn’t seem to be an issue any more. I only wish that I had the money to start a chicken ranch next door to as many of these real estate “professionals” as I could possibly afford. I would love to see how quickly their attitudes changed…

  18. duane Wallace says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    I’m sorry I didn’t realize we weren’t supposed to use our real names in this. Did they assign you guys a pseudo name or do you just make them up? I do appreciate your points of view though. Most of we residents (42 years for me here), have had bad experiences with VHRs. I personally have had more from permanent rentals and most recently some of the 500 Weed grow houses estimated by the Chief of Police. I have never liked that smell for some reason so when I go out with the dogs or my family it kind of ruins the smell of fresh air or summer warmth on cedar tress which is my favorite. On the VHRs I think the McMansions are a big part of it. Don’t you think if the City zoned things right those wouldn’t be here? I do. I did get testy because I know quite a few of the realtors who were being denigrated in some of the writings. And as I said years ago I worked as a Realtor. I was worried when I went into it that it would be as some of you describe. Other than the usual bad actors who the other agents avoided I found them to be much different than portrayed on TV. The people I knew fought hard for their clients and did it in an ethical way. And as I said in my usual long winded epistle, I think they are angry because they are scared and because the City staff and Council did not appear to understand how they were affecting the home sales of their citizens. Pass an ordinance and then do a study. Really? I see it just like the politicians who try to second guess the military. My other point was that ALL wanted enforcement. But the program became the usual convoluted mess that having government fix things usually amounts to. I am an elected guy myself so it is fair to criticize my tenure too. I have years of sitting on boards. It took me awhile to realize how many laws are passed every year By the feds, the states, TRPA, the County and City that either don’t work or are so costly that the cure is worse than the problem. And the added expense once entrenched with the jobs created becomes sacred. If you want to see anger just try to eliminate or change a government program or bureaucracy. I have gone back at times to undo things that I voted for that I later realized were not the right thing to do. That takes guts and maybe body armor. But in my older age I have become feisty and as a citizen hope to slow it down, reverse it or stop bad policy at least that within my ability. As I said we all wanted immediate enforcement like the County just did by having the Sheriffs evict the renters the same night recently. But waiting a possible long long time until someone sells and then punishing the new buyer makes no sense. I have no VHR and I am currently a renter and I’m not rich. I have just lived here and seen enough ordinances to recognize one of the most poorly designed I have ever seen. It is almost as bad as when TRPA was going to have Cal Trans remove the snow through town using hot water. Or when a few years ago they had Cal Trans remove the galvanized guard rails and sand them so they would rust and not have any shine to them so they could blend in even with the environment even though they would weaken and be unsafe. Or when an environmental group proposed that STPUD use an above ground plastic pipe to hold the 600 psi effluent in freezing pipe bursting weather in order to save a few trees. There is one exception That is if they are trying to kill jobs. Then this ordinance is spot on. Thanks again for your opinions whoever you are. My number is 545-3563 if you want to call and chew me out or just talk.

  19. Kenny (Tahoe Skibum) Curtzwiler says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    Duane, don’t waste your time with that nobody. He does not have a clue and the only jolly’s he get’s are trying to come off as an intellectual know it all while putting down others to satisfy his own non self worth. I have tried to be civil with this person but he always manages to be condescending, petty and his opinions are useless. You did nothing wrong and you should not feel that way. What you said is the truth and you signed your name to it and did not hide behind a computer wall of shame. Let the games begin. My phone number is 530-308-5265

  20. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    Mr. Wallace:

    I appreciate and respect your point of view but I don’t agree with you. Fortunately we are each entitled to own opinions. You are one of the few people that addressed the City Council that was civilized and polite. My problem is with those individuals that were rude bullies who were completely disrespectful in a public meeting to people (the City Council and City staff) that are not in a position to defend themselves when they’re being personally attacked as they are being held to a higher standard. I think that the credibility of individuals is impacted when they conduct themselves in the manner as was demonstrated at the City Council meetings by the majority of those VHR opponents, and that immature behavior does not deserve respect.

    Mr. Curtzwiler:

    I repeat, immature behavior does not deserve respect. I don’t need to put others down to satisfy my own self-worth and I don’t need constant acknowledgement from other people that I’m some sort of big shot. I think you’re too needy and too high-maintenance and I have no use for people like that. I don’t respect you as a man or as a Military Officer. Get over it.

  21. Kenny (Tahoe Skibum) Curtzwiler says - Posted: August 7, 2015

    Thanks

  22. tahoe local says - Posted: August 8, 2015

    Duane, are you running for city council next time? Seems that is what you are shooting for.

  23. Hmmm... says - Posted: August 8, 2015

    I could think of some choice screen names for Mr. Duane Wallace…though they would probably get me banned from this site.

  24. Parker says - Posted: August 9, 2015

    Why do the Realtors even get the chance to speak at these meetings? (Rhetorical question. It’s a free country. I know. Every citizen should have the right to speak.)

    It’s just that their self-interest is beyond shameless! They’re not looking out for the community. They’re just looking to sell as many homes as they can, so as to line their own pocket books.

    But I hope Councilman Cole is serious about looking at those mini-motels built in residential neighborhoods, disguised with a phony home facade. And if they’re serious now about enforcing rules, those things should get denied their VHR permits.

    And Duane, be grateful LTN doesn’t have a limit on how much one can comment at a time. I’d suggest you ask LTN if you can instead write an opinion piece!

  25. duane Wallace says - Posted: August 12, 2015

    Just as I talk too much I also get long winded when I write. I’ll work on keeping it shorter. I didn’t know we were low on ink. Hal Cole is a long time friend. But he has built so many large beautiful hg homes here, Maybe more than anyone else. And then those terrible Realtors have had the audacity to answer their phones when people want to buy or sell them! I know that since some have different opinions than I do some kind of dirt needs to be dug up on me as you have on Kenny. I don’t plan on running for Council. I have made mistakes in my many years of trying to do good here but not on purpose or for personal gain. Maybe you could still use some of that on me. I have had a council member or two so mad at me that they try to intimidate me even with threat of law suits. That is OK I know my rights. However, I’m not OK with them allowing staff to do that and doing that to other regular citizens who have opinions on public policy. That has happened on this issue like it did on the parking initiative. It is a standard tactic in national politics to vilify a group of people who differ with you in order to win on an issue. I for one would rather debate the policy or in this case the convoluted policy.

  26. Kenny (Tahoe Skibum) Curtzwiler says - Posted: August 12, 2015

    Duane, someone asked my wife if she was worried about anything dirty coming out on me during the election and her reply was ” Are you kidding me? That sob husband of mine puts our life story out there every month in his column” Ain’t it the truth. I don’t take anything personal from any “former” intelligent posters that write anything here and I don’t lose any sleep over it. They have never ever met me nor talked with me because if they had they would have realized that what they are saying about me is true and better than them have said it already. It’s not that I don’t care I do. It’s just that I care less and less everyday. At least you put your name to the posts and don’t pull a third grade neener neener from across the playground. Thanks for your insight and input and I happen to agree with most of it. This place is better than the Jerry Springer show.

  27. Parker says - Posted: August 12, 2015

    Duane,

    Don’t know the specific homes Hal Cole has built. Yet no problem with building a large home. But people should have a real problem building something in a residential area that is clearly not designed, at all, to be for residents! Those structures built by CA Base Lodge for instance, are clearly designed as mini motels.

    And who’s talking about the audacity of realtors to pick up the phone? What are you talking about?

    They do have the audacity to show up though at Council Meetings and act as though they’re speaking in the community’s interest. When all they’re doing is acting in their extreme self-interest.

    But again, if we don’t want to have zoning in our town fine! Residential areas aren’t for residents, fine! Let homeowners do whatever they want with their property, build whatever they want, fine! Let people build garages & pot dispensaries & liquor stores, with the mini-motels. Fine! Let’s just junk the rules and have a free for all!

  28. Rooster says - Posted: August 22, 2015

    Come on Labor Day.(looking forward too some peace and quiet)
    A band has been going off at my local neighborhood vacation rental all afternoon and its approaching 9:00pm now with no slowdown in sight.
    …it could be worse I guess, at least they don’t suck.