South Lake Tahoe puts fines in place for shelter in place violators; votes down eviction protection for businesses
Special to The Union
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — After a lengthy discussion, the South Lake Tahoe City Council this week voted to approve administrative citations and $1,000 fines for violations of the shelter-in-place order.
Most of the conversation centered on vacation home rentals and second homeowners.
Interim Police Chief Shannon Laney said his officers have been checking on the more than 1,400 vacation home rentals. If they see that the home is occupied, they are calling the owners to see if they are occupying the property.
Last weekend, they checked on 151 vacation home rentals.
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There has been concern from the community that enforcement is difficult. Laney said it’s difficult to police all 1,400 vacation home rentals on top of regular police duties.
“Some of the members of the community have taken it upon themselves to help with enforcement, and it’s become a bit of a problem,” Laney said at Wednesday’s meeting, reminding people that driving around looking for violators is a violation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order.
Violators can face hefty fines.
“The order authorizes a fine of $1,000 per violation,” a City Council report states. “Each day a violation exists may constitute a separate offense.”
The discussion also centered around second homeowners. Council member Cody Bass encouraged the city to come down on second homeowners who are sheltering in place in Tahoe.
“In these unprecedented times, we need to stand up and make unprecedented moves,” Bass said, adding this would only be a temporary move to stop the spread of the virus.
Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Wallace fought back, stating the city couldn’t tell homeowners what to do with their own properties.
“It was bad judgement for them to come here, but it’s their homes,” Wallace said.
Assistant City Attorney Beverly Roxas pointed out that the governor’s order states no nonessential travel, meaning if anyone comes to their second home now, they’ve violated that order.
The police will continue to monitor the vacation home rentals, but it is nearly impossible to track second homes.
The council voted unanimously to approve the citations and fines.
Pivoting to a moratorium on commercial evictions, Bass recused himself from that discussion because he owns commercial property.
The council needed a unanimous vote to pass it, but Wallace voted “no.” She said property owners are struggling, too, and this would unfairly hurt their ability to survive during the crisis. The rest of the council strongly disagreed with Wallace, saying small business owners would be hurt more than property owners.
Laney Griffo is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of The Union.
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