On June 3, 2008 the City of South Lake Tahoe’s City Council met and listened to public comment on issues regarding Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals.Near the end of the meeting three council members including Jerry Birdwell, Bill Crawford and Kathy Lovell began discussing the unthinkable….placing a moratorium or the outright banning of the operation of vacation rentals located in the City of South Lake Tahoe. One council member commented that another approach would be to rescind a properties vacation rental permit should there be no TOT tax paid for a period of three (3) months.
It is disturbing to note that some of these council members were in place during 2003 when the first vacation rental ordinance was hammered out. All involved thought that this ordinance was well thought out and that with proper enforcement most problems could ( and seemingly) be solved.
Another council member Ted Long seemed to side with vacation rental owners and stated “enough rules seem to be in place regarding vacation rentals – but enforcement might need to be stepped up in some cases to deal with such issues as too many people crammed into a house or trash left out improperly”
“As a whole, vacation rentals have been a very healthy thing for us,” Long said. “Do we need some more rules on it? I’m not so sure.”
Currently homeowners who wish to rent their home out short term as a Lake Tahoe vacation rental must obtain a permit from the City of South Lake Tahoe and/or County of Eldorado. The permit is clear on the number of guests that may stay at that particular home based on the formula of each bedroom x 2+4. This represents that maximum number of guests allowed under the permit. Parking is also controlled via the vacation rental permit as is noise and garbage under in-place ordinances. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in fines and /or loss of the vacation rental permit.
This beautiful town has been hit economically severely hard in 2007 with the Angora fire and in 2008 with the loss of TOT revenue from the now stalled convention center/Chateau condominium project and with a drastically reduced tourist forecast due to a variety of economic issues… of which gasoline prices may top that notorious list.
What we don’t need is a City Council being obtuse as to economic issues and economic fundamentals that are inherent for a strong and healthy economic engine . The fact of the matter is that most dollars accrued by the Lake Tahoe vacation rental industry ultimately stay in the Tahoe basin and with gasoline prices ever rising there are indications that even more revenue derived in the Tahoe basin will stay locally. Recent studies (June 2008, MSNBC) have revealed that consumers are less likely to travel to discount stores but to shop locally due to the ever increasing cost of those perceived discount shopping trips ( Think Carson City).
Ironically, higher energy costs may be the revival of the “mom and pop” retail industry thought destroyed by the WalMarts and Home Depots huge semi-local presence. This bodes well for Tahoe in a twisted manner but the dollars still have to be earned and distributed and without a strong tourist based economy all bets are off. The destruction of one of Lake Tahoe oldest and richest vacation traditions… the family renting the “old cabin at the lake” may indeed be in jeopardy. This is truly a shame for generations to come who cannot afford the luxury of owning and living at Lake Tahoe but try and bring the family traditions back year after year via an affordable Lake Tahoe rental experience. Lets keep these discussions in perspective and look forward for answers not backwards for blame.