S. Tahoe looking to tweak vacation rental rules


By Kathryn Reed

It depends who you talk to if there is a problem with vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe. Some houses just seem to attract loud guests. Others are a welcome addition to neighborhoods. All may have their regulations tweaked soon.

The City Council on Nov. 18 engaged in another round of discussions about the ordinance that has been in place since 2003 and that was updated in 2011.

Noise is the No. 1 issue, with trash and parking the other major concerns.

There are 1,544 licensed vacation home rentals in the city limits, with the bulk – 316 – in the Tahoe Keys.

In the first nine months of this year there were 158 noise complaints from these rentals. That is down from 468 in 2013. Vacation home rentals account for 25 percent of the noise complaints the police department receives.

But not everyone believes this is an accurate number. Even Mayor Hal Cole said he believes the numbers are higher based on what he is told by residents.

“I think the numbers are underrepresented from personal experience,” Councilman-elect Austin Sass said. “I was told by dispatch that code enforcement wasn’t working at night and officers were busy. I think people stop calling when they hear this.”

Sass was one of 10 members of the public to speak at the Tuesday meeting.

Josh Priou with Lake Tahoe Accommodations called the number of complaints “minor”. He said his company booked 6,900 nights in those nine months, which accounts for 15 percent of the market. He added that citywide there would have been about 46,000 rental nights. Lake Tahoe Accommodations didn’t receive a complaint in that time period.

Priou said there will always be jerks, and added that the teeth in the ordinance is the threat of suspension or revocation of the permit.

Police Chief Brian Uhler, whose department oversees the permitting and enforcement of these rentals, suggested the word “overnight” be removed from the ordinance. The ordinance now limits the number of overnight guests, but not how many can be there during the day. Doing so could also alleviate some parking problems.

City Attorney Tom Watson said the legalities of doing so would have to be investigated.

A representative with Lake Tahoe Getaways said, “Guests need to have skin in the game.” In other words, cite them, not just the owner.

Noise from people in hot tubs late at night is an issue. Uhler suggested finding a way to turn off the jets at a certain hour so people would not be raising their voices to talk above them.

Others proposed if that is a constant source of the noise problem, then possibly the hot tub needs to be removed.

Also proposed was a sliding scale for the permit fee based on number of rooms as well if it is operated by an agency or owner.

Requiring bear boxes was briefly touched on, but more talk was focused on whether South Tahoe Refuse could add a route for these rentals.

Adding an enforcement officer to possibly work Thursday-Sunday nights was also broached.

The vacation home rental issue is expected to return to the council in late January or early February for action. Tuesday’s item was discussion only.


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Comments (27)
  1. gigguy says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Neighborhoods are not designed to have defacto hotels in their midst. All the problems and enforcement issues would go away if SLT followed other cities (Carmel) that are limiting the business of short-term accommodations to the commercial/industrial areas that are zoned for that– places with managers on site and plenty of parking. Citizens need to consider the larger issue. Much city/county time and money is being directed to working for vacation-rental owners when things like street repair are being neglected. Does anyone wonder why the real hotels are now weekly rentals?

  2. legal beagle says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    The moon is made of green cheese, the world is at peace, and vacation rentals are not a serious problem.
    Tell me where they are welcome and not a problem
    Just because locals have given up complaining does not mean the problem of intense disturbances are gone, only that the city scum leaders don’t give a dam for locals and the cops act accordingly.
    And the amount of underpayment and no payment of TOT taxes is still in the millions.
    I finish off with what it sounds like at SLT council meetings regarding bringing the rentals under control.
    Blah, blah, blah, blah and blah.

  3. JohnnyGP says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    There will always be some residents that refuse to be flexible and some rental companies that refuse to listen to the neighbors. I am glad the City Council continues to review enacted laws and adjust until we get a happy as possible balance between tourism and resident quality of life. It is a work in progress and hopefully residents will continue to report inconsiderate renters. If they can’t make a 3 minute call to the police, then they have no right to complain. We CAN make this work. :-)

  4. Chief Slowroller says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    do you remember when the City had 0 vacation rentals?

    2 of the 6 on my block are not licensed.

    if they continue to remove old motels where else are the folks going to stay?

    my neighbor college kids (LTCC) throw some big parties
    fist fights in the street are pretty noisy.

  5. Melissa says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    What about the upkeep of these places? Who is going to enforce that they maintain the property? These places are eye-sores year round, fire-hazards and invite break-ins. Why am I wasting money on improving my own property with several of these dumps on my street to bring the property value down?

  6. Steve says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    A couple years ago when the city’s vacation rental rules were updated, vacation rental permit fees were increased to fund full time vacation rental enforcement officer(s), nights and weekends most definitely included.

    If this service is no longer in effect, those permit fee increases should be reduced accordingly.

    An alternative to the problems vacation rentals create and perpetuate in residential neighborhoods is what Indian Wells (CA) did, simply prohibiting short term rentals of less than 7 days.

  7. Gaspen Aspen says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    I have one near me. The out of town owner comes up twice a year. All he does is add more and more sticks to his property thinking it’s ART. He has a big place and it looks like it’s been abandoned. We neighbors wish it would just go away. The yard is nothing but weeds. It’s a disgrace as is he. If ever a fire comes near, his HOTEL will burn quickly.

  8. rebel with a cause says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Vacation home rentals have ruined many neighborhoods for full-time residents. In addition they have hurt the motel industry.

    Maybe Tom Davis has some ideas on how to correct the problem. He earns his bread and butter from the vacation home industry.

    I fully support the city of South Lake Tahoe seriously consider an ordinance similar to Indian Wells.

  9. nature bats last says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Creepy neighbors with mean dogs and pot growing renters who are around all the time are much more disruptive to our neighborhood than the one or two vacation homes that sit empty most of the time.

  10. reloman says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Rebel, Tom is not allowed to offer any imput as a matter of fact when these items are brought up he must leave the room because of the conflict issues, as he did yesterday.

  11. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    46,000 rental nights of TOT is a big number for the Council to consider.

    There are 5 licensed vacation rentals on my street. Only 1 seems to attract loud renters. It could be because of the size of the building which is a duplex (3 bedrooms on each side for a total of 6) with a connecting door between the units.
    On the other hand, I’ve had one of the renters from this duplex come to my house the day they checked in to tell me they were having a party and to please come to them if the noise was too loud.
    For the most part, the units managed by a local company are under control and all garbage is picked up by them the day of checkout.

  12. Mick says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    I own a vacation home in SLT, my biggest fear for my children and family dogs are the jerk full time residents (attorneys) that own two rabid pit-bulls that have attacked innocent vacationers and pets. They play the legal system delay court hearings ….meanwhile the pit-bulls rage in the neighborhood!

  13. Steven says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    46,000 TOT nights. Does the actual TOT collected by the city come close to what it should be from this many nights ?

    Tom Davis-even though he leaves the room, you can bet he is giving tons of advice/guidance/pressure behind the scenes.

    Renters and manager/owners who ask for complaints to be directed to them are just playing the system. If the sheriff is not called, there is no record of the complaint/problem, and so the city council can say there are only a few problems. Call the sheriff.

    gigguy- You are correct. Our neighborhoods have been destroyed by these illegal hotels. The TOT collected doesn’t cover the sheriff/police, extra trash clean up, lost sleep and lifestyle of full time residents.
    Get them out of our neighborhoods and put them in the keys with Tom Davis.

  14. Steven says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Maybe they have the pitbulls to keep strangers/vacationers out of their yard.
    Any way, I call it karma, biting you in the ass.

  15. kenny curtzwiler says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    We face the same issues in the county with our vacation / hotel houses in quiet areas where we live. There are over 700 vacation rentals in the rural county area of district V with 96% of them in the Meyers area. Everyone says we need the TOT money but we see zero of that money in the county. All of the TOT dollars goes to Placerville and the general fund and even the tax collector does not know how much trickles back here. Call the Sheriff? Does no good as we do not have the same enforceable rules the city has. Our noise problem is compounded due to the fact that our McMansion hotels are larger than normal and there is no enforcement ordinances in place. Need the money? Would be nice if we actually saw any of it.

  16. Mick says - Posted: November 19, 2014


    Next time I am in town I will bite your face off….dick.

  17. Rob5 says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    I have four vacation rentals within sight of my house. From time to time I have called the Sheriff on three of them for noise after 10 PM. Within half an hour a deputy has arrived and the noise ceased.

    I know that one of them has a handbook for renters that says if the Sheriff is called they will forfeit their deposit. I haven’t heard noise there for several years.

    Call the Sheriff, it works.

  18. Cranky Gerald says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Nobody apparently even understands the numbers….

    “There are 1,544 licensed vacation home rentals in the city limits, with the bulk – 316 – in the Tahoe Keys.”

    20 percent is the bulk of 1544????

    Come on guys, at least get the statistics right.

  19. Dogula says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    So why does the city building dept give permission for contractors to build ten bedroom houses in a residential neighborhood? They KNOW it’s actually a hotel.

  20. Gaspen Aspen says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Mick: I don’t like Pits either but you should do the neighbors a favor and sell to a resident. We hate vacation homes up here.

  21. nature bats last says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Hey Mick, get a air horn to blow at the dogs when they are near/in your yard. We had to take matters into our own hands regarding mean roaming mutts that were taking over the neighborhood. Have a few long heavy pipes nearby as well if they are aggressive so you can break up dog fights or if they are getting too close. Also have the phone number of animal controll and the county sherrif or city cops on your phone list for quick calling. The air horn is loud so dont let the kids play with it. It can also work on garbage bears (sometimes). Good luck…

  22. Gail Kolb says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    I have vaca rentals on both sides of me in the county. One is new to the vaca business. I have the cell phone numbers of the current property managers. Since these new managers I haven’t had to make any calls. We had wonderful visitors all summer and all they wanted to do was hike, bike and bbq. I actually hadn’t had to call about noise or trouble in a couple years, before then it was once or twice a year and the sheriff always came out. I’ve had to call on 2nd homeowners just being idiots too. Like the guy who dropped a marked tree across the whole street and didn’t know how to buck it up. Never have had to call about my permanent neighbors. There are idiots every where. It takes educating the renter, vetting the renter and writing the citations when appropriate.

  23. sunriser2 says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    I wish the property management companies would display their contact information better. I live next to a property that must be the best managed in town compared to most of the above comments.

    I would hate for them to be lumped in with the bad ones.

    My problems are with the locals and their ghetto thumpers shaking my windows as the speed down the street drunk.

  24. Steven says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    You can also call the sheriff on the ghetto thumpers and especially the drunk drivers.

  25. Steven says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Dogula is right. How does the city and county approve a mega house/hotel, many times on a small lot , in a single family zoned area. Did I hear kickback ?

  26. copper says - Posted: November 19, 2014

    Steven, no kickback needed. The rental companies have a friend on the City Council. Who is that guy behind the screen?

  27. Flatlander says - Posted: November 23, 2014

    I have owned a vacation home (not vacation rental) for a few years and am puzzled by the comment made by Gaspen Aspen about “hating vacation homes”. Let me give you a bit of reality…
    On my street the vacation homes are the best kept homes…we care about the neighborhood we are invested in. We add to the local economy by spending locally on restaurants, food, supplies, construction, handyman, etc…
    We love SLT but get to come up only once a month, all the while we subside your school budget, subside refuse collection costs, subsidize your infrastructure in general and in return we get somebody like you who dislikes my type of home ownership. Get real and work to improve SLT and don’t mouth off just to hear yourself. I have wonderful local residents neighbors and workers who are very helpful and make us feel welcomed !!!
    BTW I like the suggestion of the air horn to protect ourselves from vicious stray dogs when we go for walks…perhaps a pepper spray can will make us feel even more at ease.