County settles vacation rental lawsuit

After rejecting a vacation home rental settlement offer in January, county commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a new deal last week.

The agreement preserved a fine of up to $20,000 for those who willfully violate the county’s new ordinance and reduced the time frame by which many owners of vacation rental properties must divest themselves of their additional rentals to October 1, 2024. .

Deputy Chief Civilian District Attorney Doug Ritchie said the nine plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit filed in July 2021 agreed that those who operate unlawfully with no intent to comply should face a stiffer sentence.

The settlement also includes applying similar penalties to property managers who help landlords rent outside the rules.

“All parties agreed that a property manager assisting in the illegal operation of an ORV should be subject to the penalty,” Ritchie said.

County commissioners will still have to approve changes to the vacation rental ordinance next month.

After this change, County Vacation Home Rentals will have three months to propose revisions to the ordinance before county commissioners are allowed to make changes without a recommendation.

Vacation home rentals are limited to Tahoe Township and prohibited in the rest of Douglas County. The ordinance divides rentals into three tiers based on their capacity.

Tier 1 rents are the smallest and are not included in the ordinance’s 600 permit cap, which survived negotiations.

According to the settlement, each party will pay its own legal costs.

County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian, who participated in the second round of negotiations, said plaintiffs in the lawsuit suffered significant costs in their efforts.

“The fact is, the terms of this settlement are very, very beneficial to the county,” he said.

Douglas County has been working on a vacation home rental ordinance for five years.

A 15-member task force, which first met in April 2019, worked for more than a year to come up with recommendations for the new order. This report was provided to County Commissioners in October 2020, where the council made approximately 50 policy decisions.

Genoa resident Dan Aynesworth, who was a member of the task force, urged the commissioners to approve the settlement.

Renting vacation homes has become a problem across the country as owners of popular tourist spots rent out their homes through online visitor services.

Concerns about health, safety and allowing neighbors to enjoy their homes undisturbed have played a key role in setting the rules in jurisdictions around the Tahoe Basin.

Limiting vacation rentals in neighborhoods was the subject of an election initiative in South Lake Tahoe in 2018.

As part of its vacation home rental ordinance, Douglas County has established an advisory committee that hears applications for Tier 3 properties, which are the most intense use.

That panel is also working on revisions to the ordinance approved in June 2021 and which partially went into effect the following month after nine Tahoe vacation rental owners took the county to federal court.


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