Vacation rental ban harms more than just tourists, South Lake Tahoe property managers say

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (KRON) — From the skiing to the lake, beach and trails — South Lake Tahoe, just a 3 hour drive from San Francisco, is where many Bay Area residents trade city life for mountain life.

When it comes to how people vacation, property managers say vacation rentals are on the rise. It’s a chance for visitors to live like the locals.

“Grandma does not want to stay at the Hardrock while the kids are skiing. They want to have the families together, most of the people who live here actually travel and stay in AirBnBs in vacation rentals,” said Stu Roberson with RNR Vacation Rentals.”It is a very popular way to travel, it makes people be able to experience the area.”

But soon, certain vacations will violate city law.

South Lake Tahoe voters passed Measure T — an ordinance to eliminate most vacation home rentals in residential neighborhoods.

It passed by a mere 58 votes.

“It was an incredibly close vote and I’m fearful that we may wind up in a cycle in a ballot measure, lawsuit, ballot measure lawsuit and I don’t think that’s good for the community as a whole,” said City Manager Frank Rush.

A lawsuit has been filed by property owners who are trying to stop the measure. Rush tells me the city and plaintiffs have agreed on a limited injunction: Maximum occupancy limits.

“Clearly this has been an issue that has divided the community over the last couple of years,” said Rush. “I’m trying to do everything we can to heal those divisions in a way that addresses those concerns.”

Right now, there are 1,400 vacation home rentals in residential areas.

The city is not issuing any new residential VHR permits.

Existing permits would phase out until now and 2021.

Over the last ten years, Joshua Priou has been talking to city council to stop a ballot like Measure T.

Priou manages properties around the lake from the north shore and south shore in California and Nevada, but the majority of his rentals are within South Lake Tahoe — where Measure T is.

“The people who are against it though, they don’t want any and that would devastate our economy here in Tahoe,” said Priou, general manager of Lake Tahoe Accommodations. “We’re talking about thousands of thousands of people traveling here, spending money in our restaurants, renting skis, boats, everything you can possibly imagine, just retail alone.”

For Priou, it’s beyond the tourism industry.

It’s the company he helped build.

“I have a staff of 30 people, we’d still manage homes around the lake, but we’d be looking at possible job losses, housekeeper losses, people that we employ that has vendors like hot tub service people and plumbers and carpet cleaners,” Priou said. “We’re talking about all of them losing their accounts with us because we wouldn’t need them at all in this area.”

Even though the ban will take place in two years, other businesses are concerned of what’s to come.

“If it went into effect, it would dramatically hurt the economy, there’s so many people’s whose livelihoods and their families are dependant on tourism,” said Roberson.

Roberson owns RNR Vacation Rentals, a company exclusively in South Lake Tahoe.

“It would have a huge impact economically on everybody,” Roberson said. “An estimate of over 30 percent of the revenue that’s generated from tourists come from people who stay in vacation rentals.”

And if Measure T follows through — the fear is vacationers may go elsewhere.

“Instead of coming to Lake Tahoe to go ski, they’ll go to Park City, or go to Breckenridge, or go to Aspen, wherever they go,” said Priou. “They’re not going to choose to stay in hotels once they have the experience in staying in you know a nice vacation rental.”

 In the meantime, Roberson asks that tourists be “good neighbors” and be tolerant of the Lake Tahoe residents.

“Come on up and vacation,” said Roberson. “Be a good neighbor, enjoy yourself inside the home without bothering neighbors. We do have people that live here year round and they need their sleep.”

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