Pumping the Brakes on STRs and Visitors During the Coronavirus Crisis

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Recap

Have a thought or two about short-term rentals in and visitors to the Tahoe area during the COVID-19 pandemic? We brought experts together to talk about the realities in our most recent Tahoe Talks, which took place on April 9. Some points of interest:
  • Truckee police chief Robert Leftwich pointed out that semantics are really important, and that sheltering-in-place is completely different from a stay-at-home directive. A shelter-in-place is when there’s an imminent threat — a hurricane or safety issue for example. It means do not come out of your house at all. The current stay-at-home order by California Governor Gavin Newsom creates social pressure toward our behavior norms, but is unenforceable by local law. Here’s a video link to his specific points.

  • Leftwich said everybody’s focused on the R-factor, the rate of transmission of the coronavirus between people. But he said we should really be looking at the i-Factor, what I am doing, what each individual is doing is to ensure we’re following the local and statewide orders.

  • That led to the idea that it shouldn’t be about locals versus visitors and second-homeowners. Instead, let’s focus on the people not abiding by the social distancing directives and help them be better.

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  • The agencies reported that a large majority of STR owners have complied to the regional ban on STR business unless housing essential personnel. A few of the large platforms, such as Vacasa and TurnKey, have taken down listings. Others such as Airbnb and VRBO have not.

  • Some people say they are still seeing visitors to the area. Cheri Sugal, a North Shore resident who has used her home as an STR before, said that every single short-term rental house on her street is still being rented out, every house is full.

  • Local officials talked about getting the word out about not traveling up here via channels down the hill. Press releases, interviews with TV stations. Some people questioned how to best get the word out around here, with criticisms that the messaging is happening in fits and starts.

  • Local lead agencies shared data tracking the situation.

  • Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson said that 70% of nonessential travel has been reduced in the county.

  • And Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association said that a humbling 60% of the Tahoe-area workforce has been laid off – with those being in the tourism industry.

You can check out our YouTube recording of the conversation. (Note that the beginning is cut off a bit due to delayed recording efforts.)

Future Topics

  • How to talk to landlords
  • New business models and ideas
  • How to handle kids while you’re calling into a conference call