The Epic Tale of Short-Term Rentals


Happy New Year, people!

Even with the lofty goals made as the calendar year flips over, there’s a distinct feeling that we remain sunk in a pretty big pile of muck. Global unrest simmers, national cohesion fractures, and local divisions are boiling. The overarching narrative is that the world is on a precipice, and it seems a handbasket might be warranted for where we’re going.

Battles are simmering in Tahoe/Truckee over important issues such as community character; climate change impacts; and the housing crisis (I’ve even heard it called a “housing disaster”) with its fallout.


But here’s the thing: The epic tales we hold near and dear to our hearts always happen at points of immense upheaval. Frodo and Sam went on their journey as Sauron seemed headed to victory. Avatar, the highest grossing film of all-time, chronicles a society on the brink of collapse and its comeback, against all odds.

It’s the storyline of the ages, where characters you love band together and put determined, inspired effort into keeping their world from crumbling.

Laura Read’s roundup of Tahoe’s new gritty memoirs grip our attention with tales of challenge and the power of sheer will. Touching Feel-Good animal rescues over this holiday season illustrate how this community rallies together so beautifully. A team of helpers brought 85-year-old Barbara Witt to ski the slopes after she believed she had taken her last run.

However, on the sticky subject of short-term rentals, we’ve yet to commit to collaborate. Some advocate for an all-out ban in order to equalize society a little, while others hold up private property rights as the sole guiding star. Most people’s opinions likely lie somewhere in the middle.

We have an opportunity to create our own epic tale: to be a community that answers this tough question; a guiding light in how to be inclusive of all those who call this place home.

Start with common ground: We can all agree housing affordability is direly challenging the community fabric, a precious commodity we would like to keep intact. (If you don’t feel this way, kindly find the exit.)

Next, do research and give serious consideration: Short-term rentals were propelled into the housing-crisis spotlight from community reports and market analyses. Every single jurisdiction in our coverage area decided to implement some form of restrictions on STRs.

Weigh the impacts: According to Christy Morrison, a real estate agent interviewed for the lead news story, prospective home buyers backed off when told they might not be able to short-term rent. The median home price squeaked below $1 million for the first time in two years. I recognize that many factors play into the softening of the market, but I feel strongly the restrictions on short-term rentals play a large part. (Christy and I are sure to have a lively discussion.)

In past stories, we’ve looked at how certain people don’t think curtailing short-term rentals will lead to more long-term rentals and that we should allow the market to self-correct. But more affordable home prices will house more locals and truth be told, the market skyrocketed until short-term rental ordinances went into effect.

Christy brought up the idea of allotting certain neighborhoods for short-term rentals. That’s worth exploring. Perhaps we could turn the model on its head and allocate new dense development for them — keeping them close to town centers and out of residential neighborhoods. Perhaps we return again and again to our common ground that we want our community to remain a community. All our efforts, lever-pulling, and principles will be laser-focused on that mission. When we retain an economically stratified, housing-secure community with thriving businesses and a healthy surrounding landscape, then we shall have our epic tale.


  • Mayumi Peacock

    Hailing from a U.S. military family and a graduate of the University of Florida, Mayumi Peacock has lived in several corners of the country and globe, yet Tahoe/Truckee has been her home since 1999. She is founder and publisher of Moonshine Ink, the region’s award-winning independent newspaper, which continues to be created by, for, and of the community. Other passions include family, animals, books, healthy living, and humane food.

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  1. Go sit in traffic. Ponder where everyone is staying…. Ask residents and visitors alike what their user experience is like. Ask local businesses to answer honestly if they really like the rush of tourists at such unsustainable numbers. STR’s aren’t the only piece to this puzzle. Cheap Epic and Ikon ski passes go with STR’s like peanut butter and chocolate. Take the bus they say… without a real transit system you now sit in a bus for 2-3 hours to to the hill. Palisades Tahoe (worst name ever) spent 65 million on a gondola seemingly just to tout its size. That money could have been used for transit/parking, etc. if the resort cared about the environment and the user experience. But they don’t, they care about selling tickets-because they are all owned by hedge funds and run by people who don’t care about anything other than money. Look no further than the repeated attempts to ram through massive 25-years of development to a valley that is already beyond capacity.

    And STR’s gut every community they are allowed to enter.