A Dissenting Opinion on a Moot Point

Truckee’s new STR regulations don’t see the full picture

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By Dave Medara

I was disappointed to see the current STR regulations passed. This legislation passed by voters, raising taxes and imposing strict regulations on STRs in response to perceived abuses by short-term renters. An easy ordinance to pass as the taxes and regulation will mostly be affecting folks from out of town while the Town of Truckee gets to keep the loot. A no-brainer.

But the regulations we had in place before were adequate. Enforcement of those rules would have been the appropriate solution. More rules (some of them ridiculous), expensive registrations, and threatening homeowners who rent their places short-term with large fines and misdemeanor prosecution are all elements that take this ordinance too far.

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While this will be an unpopular opinion with the prevailing attitude toward STRs, it is my opinion that this ordinance is both overly punitive and a reaction to problems that have existed in every tourist community since there was such a thing. STR registration already exists, noise ordinances already exist, parking regulations already exist, safety codes already exist, waste management regulations already exist, etc., etc. Add to the fact that most STR owners are suffering financially already, this ordinance only piles on the financial damage.

People consistently fail to recognize that it is tourism — and tourism alone — that keeps this town afloat. Some of us rely on the ability to short-term rent our homes to supplement our incomes in a location where real estate prices and other costs have gone mad. Punishing decent folks for the actions of a small minority seems to be the new normal, and that is exactly what is happening here.

While I will not try to claim that there are no problems with STRs, unfortunately, in life we rarely hear about the positive side of well … anything. I have had a fantastic experience as a host so far with very respectful guests who leave the house spotless when they leave and treat my home and neighbors with respect. I think this is the experience that most hosts have, but the public rarely, if ever, hears about someone else’s positive experience.

Remember that:

  • STR renters are scored for their performance. A bad renter is unlikely to be back at any given location. Their rating as a guest is available for any host to see and they are thus incentivized to behave and follow the house rules.
  • STR owners are incentivized to keep their properties in good condition and appearance. We’ve all seen beat-down long-term rentals.
  • Truckee depends on tourism to survive, and all of the problems that this ordinance is designed to address existed before STRs became readily available.

As far as Accessory Dwelling Units are concerned, I believe that mandating ADUs to be used only for long-term rentals is a violation of private property rights. It’s hard not to sound like a Trump supporter here, but I still believe in some basic property rights. As long as ADUs are legal, it is not the place of the Town of Truckee to mandate that private homeowners can only rent their ADUs to long-term renters.

Here we have the Town of Truckee raising their tax revenues on rentals, while at the same time restricting the ability of private homeowners to maximize their own revenues. I do not personally have an ADU, but I see a reactionary mandate here that eliminates the right of a private homeowner to use their property in a manner that is both legal and beneficial to those individuals.

I recognize these are all moot points as this regulation has already passed, but these are my feelings nonetheless.

~ Dave Medara is a father, a GIS specialist, rigger, climber, skier, guide, avalanche educator, and enthusiast. Dave has been a Truckee resident and homeowner since 2012.

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