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The Great Vacation Rental Debate

How South Lake Tahoe is changing the rules and how we may be affected
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We’ve all thought it, but wishing the weekend renters next door would turn the Migos down and end their 15th game of beer pong is different than actually drafting legislation.

According to the City of South Lake Tahoe’s website, “The South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s Vacation Home Rental (VHR) Code Enforcement Team strictly enforces the VHR Ordinance. Follow these rules to avoid a $1,000 fine.”


VHR RULES

PARKING: Parking at vacation home rentals is limited to parking in the driveway or the garage. Street parking is not allowed at any time. The number of parking spaces at each VHR is posted on the signage outside of the VHR.

TRASH: Trash must be disposed of in a bear box and bear boxes shall be installed in all homes with a vacation home rental permit by July 31, 2018.

OCCUPANCY: Occupancy shall not be exceeded at any time in vacation home rentals. Visitors must adhere to the maximum number of occupants in the VHR. Weddings and parties are not allowed in VHR’s at any time.

POOLS/SPAS/HOT TUBS: Hot tubs cannot be used from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.

NO CAMPING: Camping on vacation home rental property is prohibited.

NOISE: No excessive or unreasonable noise is permitted at any time. Noise in violation of the City ordinance is prohibited between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and noise violations can be reported any time of day.


If the renter is in violation of the ordinances listed above, both the renter and the homeowner will receive a $1,000 fine, without any warning. The homeowner is assumed to have left the incoming renter a packet, outlining the city’s expectations, and the renter is assumed to have read the packet upon arrival. But, the reality of every renter reading the full guest book, along with the city rules and guidelines, is slim to none.

If I were on vacation and received a $1,000 fine for parking on the street, my experience would be tarnished, and the likelihood of me returning to the place (or town overall) that charged me more for a fine than I paid for the entire home rental would be extremely low. I realize the opinions on this topic will be divided, but let’s explore both sides together.

Imagine this:

You live in the Bay Area, where spending two hours a day in traffic is the norm, and you live for your weekends. Tahoe is your sanctuary; the place you come to when you need a break from it all. You rent a house and pay a minimum of $250/night, but you’re happy to do so because you know you’re supporting the local economy. You dine at Wolfdale’s, the family owned restaurant in Tahoe City, you rent your gear at Tahoe Dave’s, and you buy your family lift tickets at Sugar Bowl.

By renting someone’s home, not only are you contributing to the economy by becoming a patron at their establishment, but you could also be supporting someone’s dream. By allowing owners to rent out their home when the home is not being used, you, in turn, make it possible for the owner to actually own that home. Without the two or three rentals per month, the homeowner may not be able to afford their mortgage.

Now, on the flip side, most of us locals know the feeling of having a vacation rental as your neighbor. As you try to put your kids down to sleep, or prepare for the following workday, the guests next door are loud, inconsiderate, and at times, flat out disrespectful.

In addition to the noise factor, vacation rentals (in many people’s eyes) drive up real estate prices, making it nearly impossible for locals to purchase their own homes. Without vacation rentals, locals may not only have an opportunity to own the home they’re living in, but the full-time rental market may become a bit easier to navigate through, as well.

What many people fail to realize is that not all homeowners rent their houses out because they can make more money doing short-term rentals. For many property owners in the Tahoe/Truckee area, these homes are truly their second homes, meaning they want an opportunity to enjoy the home they purchased. By signing a one-year lease, the property becomes strictly an investment, which not only strips the owner’s ability to use the house themselves, but also subjects it to higher interest rates and different classifications for tax purposes.

In my opinion, by discouraging vacation rentals, we lose a valuable piece of our local economy. So, what is the solution? Do we, as a community, push renters (and subsequently the people who own the home) out? Or do we work together to find a collaborative solution?

 
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August 9, 2018