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Placer County eyes short-term rental regulations

Hannah Jones
Special to The Union

TAHOE CITY — With a growing number of short term rentals in North Lake Tahoe, residents have come forward with complaints of disrespectful tenants and urge Placer County to enforce stricter regulations on property owners.

“There are a number of challenges that are associated with short-term rentals,” said Steve Pedretti, director of Placer County’s Community Development Resource Agency. Those challenges, he said, include parking, trash and in some cases out of control parties.

“I’ve personally experienced having to break up a bachelor party. It’s not safe,” Kelly Dietz, president of Tahoe Luxury Properties, told Placer County supervisors at a July 23 meeting. “We need compliance officers who can go and get the police to go if it’s really an issue.”

Placer County requires property owners to register and collect Transient Occupancy Tax within 30 days of making the unit available for short-term renters. New TOT regulations adopted last year require those registered to read and acknowledge existing county ordinances on trash, noise and parking.

“I don’t want to have a whole lot of regulations but we’ve heard from residents that it’s a problem.”— Bonnie GorePlacer County Supervisor

Potential new regulations could include requiring property owners to obtain a separate permit in addition to a TOT certificate, and to have a 24-hour local contact to handle complaints from neighbors and occupancy limits.

Millions more in TOT revenue

In 2016, the county hired Host Compliance to track short-term rentals when it became evident they were becoming more popular. The company identified more than 1,000 properties which properties were renting but not collecting TOT. As of March 2019, Placer County has a 90 percent compliance rate with TOT certificate registration.

As a result of Host Compliance’s work over $1 million in new additional TOT revenue was collected, according to a staff report. During the fiscal year 2017- 2018, the county collected $18.6 million in TOT, 60% of which came from short-term rentals.

“We had a significant uptake in units being registered and natural growth in the short-term rental market,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County deputy county executive officer.

With the rise of online renting platforms in the past decade such as Airbnb and VRBO, the number of short-term rentals has grown dramatically.

As of July there are 5,085 properties with TOT certificates in the county with 4,372 in eastern Placer County. According to a report by the Mountain Housing Council, released in January there are 6,980 housing units are occupied by full-time residents and 17,310 second homes in eastern Placer County.

“Short-term rentals aren’t anything new, what’s been the game changer is technology,” said Samir Tuma, vice chair of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “I think what we’re seeing today is we’ve got a situation where the regulations and response hasn’t caught up to the speed at which things have spread do to technology.”

While residents are fighting for more regulations, the county is hesitant to potentially restrict the flow of TOT revenue. As stated in a staff report, “regulations could impact TOT revenues and the County’s ability to support future projects.”

Projects funded through TOT in the past include the Commons Beach Restoration, the Tahoe City Transit Center, the Snow Creek Wetlands Restoration Project and the Dollar Creek Shared Use Trail.

“I don’t want to have a whole lot of regulations but we’ve heard from residents that it’s a problem,” said Supervisor Bonnie Gore.

County staff is currently working on additional regulations and will come back to the board in October with an update.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister paper of The Union. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.


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