SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Vacation home rentals have been a point of contention all around Lake Tahoe, especially on the South Shore where Measure T has sparked conversation about whether or not VHRs are bad for the community.
Tahoe Neighborhoods Group is made up of locals who have been outspoken against VHRs, especially because of the disruptions they cause full-time residents, and helped pass Measure T in November 2018.
As part of the city’s effort to hear the residents’ concerns, they’ve posted every complaint made against the VHRs since the end of June, 2017.
Joshua Priou is the General Manager for Lake Tahoe Accommodations which has vacation homes all around the lake. In 2015, after he said the city started talking about how big of a problem VHRs were, Priou filed a freedom of information act on all complaints.
According to Priou, for the first 11 months of 2019, there were 210 neighbor complaints with only 51 violations, 22 of which were noise violations.
South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Shannon Laney oversees code enforcement for the department that handles VHRs for the city. He said many of the calls the city responds to end with warnings.
“We don’t want to ruin a family’s vacation,” Laney said. He also said most of the warnings solve whatever issue is going on.
Washoe County is currently addressing the issue on the North Shore by drafting possible ordinances. Part of the County Commission’s discussion has focused on whether having a property management agency oversee the VHRs would make a difference on code compliance.
Priou is in favor of that.
“We’re dedicated to making sure that our neighborhoods are nice and safe and quiet and we don’t have partiers,” Priou said. “We’re one of the few companies that remains open 24 hours a day. We actually see everyone of our guests, they have to check in with us physically.”
Although Measure T, a ballot measure that bans VHRs outside the city’s tourist core and commercial areas, is still going through the court process, it seems it may have already made an impact on the problem.
“So, I think one of the interesting statistics you can pull from online, the number of complaints between 2017, 2018, and 2019. It seems as soon as Measure T passed, the calls dropped drastically,” Laney said.
In the second half of 2017, there were about 360 complaints made, more than almost all of 2019.
However, not everyone contributes that drop in calls to success from Measure T.
“The city has given residents the task of reporting VHR disturbances (through a complaint driven system) and we hear from people who have been frustrated by the reporting system and have given up reporting problems,” said Peggy Bourland from the Tahoe Neighborhood Group. “Asking the public to be the de facto managers of VHRs in their neighborhoods has proven to be a flawed system.”
One thing everyone can agree on, regulations are necessary to keep VHRs viable in South Lake Tahoe.
“I think it’s very important to have an ordinance,” Prious said, “but the city got nuts … its an overreach, but certainly some sort of ordinance with some teeth that says, ‘Hey look, if you’re gonna break the rules, you’re going to get a citation or you’re going to get evicted.’”