Six months after halting short-term rental permits in North Lake Tahoe, Placer County officials voted to tentatively approve another set of rules to protect the limited housing inventory for locals. The measure is set for a second reading next month.
The ordinance would limit the number of short-term rentals in the eastern part of the county to a quarter of homes, SFGate reported. It would cover the North and West Shore from Kings Beach to Homewood as well as Olympic Valley and Northstar.
About 200 people turned up for a public hearing, both in person and virtually. Many residents who spoke up urged the Board of Supervisors to take even stronger action to protect housing supply. They asked the board to cut the number of permits to balance out neighborhoods that are overrun by vacationers.
“I know so many contributors to this community — teachers, people who work in hospitals, people who work in utilities, people who work in restaurants — that are not able to either rent here or buy homes, and it is absolutely heartbreaking,” Ellie Perry, a North Tahoe resident, said at the meeting. “Every time one of those houses is turned into, essentially, another hotel, that’s one less home for somebody who’s actually contributing to this community.”
Lake Tahoe communities have been trying to regulate the mass amounts of Airbnbs popping up across the basin. The five counties along the lake have different rules.
Lake Tahoe has drawn a flood of visitors during the pandemic as people seek to spend time outdoors, as well as new residents from the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, driving up home prices.
In April 2020, the median price for a single-family home was $660,000. By November 2021, that number jumped to $1.175 million. A two-person household in North Tahoe would have to make 425 percent of the area’s median income to afford a home.
“Within a short period of years, Lake Tahoe went from a rural ski town with plenty of affordable long-term rentals, to Beverly Hills [or] Manhattan Beach home values,” Pat Dillon, a resident of North Tahoe for 42 years. “My opinion is that short-term rentals are a commercial operation being permitted in a residential area by my county representatives. For the tax dollars.”
At the meeting, the board decided to set a cap of 3,900 permits, down from the 4,300 originally proposed. About 2,500 short-term rentals were already allowed before the moratorium, although officials say the actual number is closer to 3,900 because some properties don’t need permits under old rules.
Most residents opposed legislation that could increase the number of short-term rentals in North Tahoe.
“No ordinance will cover every possible violation and no ordinance will be perfectly enforced,” Tahoe City resident Chris Hager said at the meeting. “The only way to minimize some of these problems is to minimize the number of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.”
[SFG] — Victoria Pruitt