Short-term rental guidelines at Lake Tahoe one step closer to reality

STATELINE, Nev. — Jurisdictions around Lake Tahoe will have to maintain an A-grade or face a penalty under new short-term rental guidelines that were approved this week by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Advisory Planning Commission.

South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County, El Dorado County, Placer County and Washoe County each would have to maintain at least a 90 percent score or risk losing residential allocations under the new rules, if adopted later this year by the TRPA governing board.

Basically if there is an undeveloped lot, an allocation must be obtained by the whatever jurisdiction it is in before it can be developed. No allocation, no new development.

About two dozen people from all shores of Lake Tahoe attended the APC meeting Wednesday morning, Oct. 9, and most took their turns at the podium during the 3 ½-hour meeting.

The commissioners also engaged in a lengthy discussion and not all agreed to move forward with the guidelines without revisions. The vote was 8-5.

Incline Village General Improvement District Board Trustee Tim Callicrate said the plan is premature. 

“We don't even have a plan adopted over there yet,” Callicrate said. “As far as Incline Village and Crystal Bay, we'd like to have our area plan in place before we adopt this.”

TRPA staff and community members, a working group, have collaborated for the past six months or so in preparing the STR guidelines to add a third criterion to its Performance Review System for the future release of residential allocations.

The other two are Annual Residential Permit Review and Code Compliance Audit and Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation.

The new STR Neighborhood Compatability Guidelines are broken down in three areas, enforcement, locational and operational, with points awarded for each category.

Callicrate also had issue with locational strategy saying there was no real town center and added Incline and Crystal Bay are already built out.

“I don't know how this will all fit,” Callicrate said.

Douglas County representative Louis Cariola is also against the new guidelines.

He said Douglas has a defined structure and a fully implemented, fleshed-out program.

“To take this punitive approach to Douglas County is not necessarily fair,” Cariola said. “I support Mr. Callicrate's comments in not supporting this at this time.”

The public comment period opened and a steady stream of speakers went to the podium.

Incline residents all appreciated the new guidelines as a start, but they'd like to see TRPA take over and bring the hammer down on zoning and STR enforcement. They also expressed frustration at Washoe County and what they feel has been a lack of action.

The comments were different coming from South Lake Tahoe speakers where wounds remain fresh from a divisive election in November 2018. Measure T passed which banned vacation home rentals outside the tourist core, among other things.

Peggy Bourland, of the Tahoe Neighborhoods Group who spearheaded the effort to put Measure T on the ballot, said the new guidelines are years late.

“Today's proposal is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Bourland said. “This problem could have been avoided 15 years ago when TRPA established its standards. They are called residential allocations for a reason. Not for rentals and large-scale lodging properties. TRPA failed to follow through on their own policies and have caused the negative reaction you are hearing from the public today. The solution came through a citizens ballot.”

But a lawsuit was filed by an anti-Measure T group and the issue is headed to court after a city rally for a compromise between the two sides failed.

Mark Salmon, a local real estate agent who advocated against Measure T, asked the commission how much TRPA really wants to dip their feet into short term rentals, saying it's an issue that should be handled through local government.

That thought was echoed by Pat Davison, government affairs manager for Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe.

He stressed that residential allocation means a lot to his jurisdiction, and that local government needs to maintain control without incurring a penalty.

“TRPA, it seems, has become the STR battleground,” Davison said. “What's happening at TRPA is happening more intensely at the local level. When the rubber hits the road at the local level, we want local decision makers to have the power, not TRPA.”

The guidelines head to TRPA's Regional Plan Implementation Committee later this month. If passed by RPIC, it would then go to the full governing board.

TRPA Public Information Officer Chris Larson said it has not been determined whether the governing board would get it in October or November.


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