With the coronavirus pandemic breathing visitors and new residents into the Tahoe region, short-term rental regulations were a hot topic on the agenda at the Aug. 11 Town of Truckee council meeting.
I’m Alex Hoeft, news reporter for Moonshine Ink and here to share with you the latest news on STRs.
At the meeting, town staff presented to council the first steps of establishing an ordinance to regulate STRs. Council unanimously adopted staff’s recommendation.
After the meeting, I reached out to Mayor David Polivy, who texted me, saying in his opinion, the progress is long overdue. Not only are the STR ordinance efforts in response to COVID crowds, but he wrote, “we are also trying to make incremental steps on the things we can control and be responsive to the community at the same time.”
Accepted as part of town staff’s recommendation for STR rental regulations include a fee structure to cover the cost of STR administration and enforcement and community-wide nuisance abatement regulations. The proposed ordinance would include homeowner associations, or HOAs.
Monitoring the program is recommended for the first year if the ordinance is adopted, with council then slated to decide whether additional steps might be warranted. The full staff report is available online.
One objective originally planned to be part of the STR ordinance when it was first proposed to begin back in April was the possibility of managing community visitation to Truckee by limiting the number or usage of STRs.
Hilary Hobbs, management analyst with the town, said this last idea is contentious and would be better if it involved a more in-depth community conversation.
The town staff’s proposal, Hobbs further explained, is an expedited process that does include community feedback, just not to the full extent that would normally be planned. Based on the feedback received from council on Aug. 11, she foresaw that efforts to create a draft ordinance would take two weeks or less and then be pushed out for public review.
“That would be published for any member of the public to review on our website and social media. [We] would also do outreach with stakeholder groups including [Mountain Area Preservation], [Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe], the [Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District] committee and Visit Truckee, Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, large HOAs like Tahoe Donner, Glenshire, Sierra Meadows, and current registered STR operators, as well as the Truckee Chamber.”
Opportunity for the public to review and provide comments is expected to take place for about two weeks, with staff then considering and making adjustments based on that feedback, all before bringing the draft ordinance to town council. In total, the town council expects to see a draft ordinance in about six weeks.
While parts of the ordinance could start prior to 2021, the fee structure, if approved, wouldn’t likely begin until Jan. 1, 2021.
During the council meeting, interim town manager Dan Wilkins said of the eventual implementation, “Our expectation is that next summer will definitely be a test of how well the program is working, and this winter maybe as well, depending on whether this visitation activity that we’re currently seeing holds through the winter or not. I think it could; I think it’s going to depend on what happens with the ski areas which is a bit of a question mark right now.”
Over 80 written comments in total were submitted regarding the agenda item, with an overwhelming majority in favor of passage.
Recent counts on STRs, which are identified as housing units rented for less than 31 days, cite approximately 1,750 registered units in Truckee — approximately 12.9% of the town’s housing units. Note that those registered as STRs aren’t always active.
The full story, Truckee Accelerates STR Ordinance Process, is available at our website, moonshineink.com, where you can read about specific public comments, as well as how other regions around Lake Tahoe are addressing STRs.
In the meantime, be nice to all — regardless of whether they’re a visitor or resident, and keep Tahoe smart. P.S. It’s Moonshine Day! New print edition, chock full of local news and community happenings, on stands as of today.