North Tahoe communities impose new limits on Airbnb homes and vacation rentals

Debates over how to handle the proliferation of short-term rentals — Airbnbs, Vrbos and others — are heating up in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

Supervisors in Placer County, which covers much of Tahoe’s West Shore as well as Tahoe City and the area surrounding the Palisades Tahoe Ski Resort, unanimously approved an ordinance this week that would cap the number of rentals at short-term at 3,900, which equates to about 25% of the neighborhood’s housing stock.

The ordinance, which if approved at second reading on Feb. 8 would take effect in March, is also intended to address ongoing issues that have arisen as more homes around Tahoe are converted to rental properties at full-time. It would limit short-term rentals to one per property, require more frequent inspections and impose higher fire protection standards and stricter rules on noise, parking and garbage collection. Additionally, it would increase fines to $1,500 for a first offense, $3,000 for a second, and $5,000 for a third.

Further, Truckee is expected to discuss its own cap on vacation rentals and other restrictions at a Feb. 8 city council meeting. Across the Nevada border, Washoe County supervisors agreed this week to consider increasing the number of tenants allowed per rental unit under a controversial ordinance passed last year to regulate the short term rentals.

Every community in Tahoe has risen to the challenge of managing vacation rentals since the advent and widespread use of online rental marketplaces like Airbnb and Vrbo. But the pandemic has sparked a real estate and tourism boom around the lake, and Placer’s new ordinance is an attempt to crack down on what has become a regional lightning rod dividing neighborhoods.

Not only have Tahoe residents reported excessive partying, excessive parking and littering from short-term rental properties, but the rapid spread of rentals around the lake is believed to be contributing to a shortage of affordable housing throughout the region, which pushed much of Tahoe’s workforce out of the basin.

In South Lake Tahoe, which has implemented the most restrictive regulations on short-term rentals in the region, authorities are closely monitoring the impact of the changes on tax revenue.

About 200 people spoke at the Placer County meeting on Tuesday, many of whom expressed deep concern about the county’s latest attempt to bring stability and balance to North Tahoe neighborhoods.

“We have people living in their cars and we have a very small workforce, where so many businesses can’t find workers,” said resident Cheri Sugal. “The quality of life in our residential neighborhoods is deteriorating sharply because residents are forced to deal with the inevitable nuisance from nearby STRs.”

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