Revised ORV ordinance authorizes planning commission
A review of the ordinance governing vacation home rentals in Douglas County cleared the planning committee on Tuesday.
Like many jurisdictions across the country, Douglas County is debating rules for residents who rent their homes to vacationers through services like AirBnB since June 2018. That’s when an ordinance that reportedly extended rentals in the Township of East Fork were offered for the first time.
That same year, residents of South Lake Tahoe approved a voting measure to limit vacation rentals in city neighborhoods.
Douglas formed a task force in 2019 that worked on the new ordinance for about a year before the ordinance was presented to the commissioners, who spent several months working on it.
“The task force has worked very long and hard on this,” Planning Commission chairman Kirk Walder said on Tuesday. “They provided the framework. Their contribution has been immense in bringing the ordinance to where it is today. “
The order was due to go into effect on July 15, when a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the county from implementing parts, including a $ 20,000 fine for operating a rental without a license.
A settlement conference in that lawsuit resulted in the revisions that planning commissioners approved on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Deputy Civil District Attorney General Doug Ritchie said the fine would return for worst offenders under the settlement.
“The intention of the fine was never to punish those who tried to comply,” he said. “It was designed to catch those who are not trying to follow the regulations. “
Another major change has been to increase the cap for the two major categories of vacation home rentals from 600 to 650. The smaller category is not included in the cap. A compromise set the number of occupants in a vacation rental at two per bedroom plus two at all levels.
Lake Tahoe resident Steve Teshara said he was happy to see the cap go up, although he pointed out that the task force recommended 725.
“I was one of those who predicted there would be litigation,” he said. “I appreciate that there has been work on the regulations. “
He also raised the issue of permitted vacation rentals in East Fork Township.
“The county is leaving money on the table by not having an ORV in the valley,” he said.
Vacation home rentals are prohibited in Carson Valley and Topaz Ranch Estates, which are located in East Fork Township.
Residents can apply for a special use permit to make a guest room, which requires the owner to be present when renting.
This process requires a public hearing.
County commissioners are expected to hear the order’s second reading at their January 6 meeting.