New rules for vacation rentals in eastern Placer County start Jan. 1

TAHOE CITY, Calif. December 30, 2019 – New regulations for vacation rentals in eastern Placer County go into effect Wednesday, following the county Board of Supervisors’ approval of a new short-term rental ordinance in November.

The ordinance is intended to strike a balance of reducing neighborhood nuisances like noise and parking issues related to vacation rentals without undermining the market for this important guest accommodation.

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With an overwhelming majority of vacation rental properties located in the North Lake Tahoe region, the ordinance applies only to properties above 5,000 feet in elevation.

“We look forward to welcoming our visitors who help make Tahoe such a vibrant place,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “We want everyone to enjoy their time here. But we also want to have clear rules in place for our guests that help ensure they observe the same courtesies in our neighborhoods as they would expect back home.”

Among its key provisions, the ordinance establishes a new permitting requirement to operate a residence as a vacation rental property. The new permits will not be required for more traditional lodging types like hotels or timeshares, or homes within resorts that are managed through a resort management company.

The new regulations define quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and include a requirement to provide bear bins for garbage. They also set occupancy limits after 10 p.m. of two adults per bedroom, plus two additional people, excluding children under 16. The ordinance allows the Community Development Resource Agency director to increase occupancy limits on a case-by-case basis to ensure that large families are not left out of the rental market.

Fire safety is also addressed in the ordinance. Outdoor wood-burning fires and charcoal grills are prohibited at vacation rentals to reduce the risk of fire. The application for a permit requires a safety inspection by the local fire district to verify installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher, and that barbeques and outdoor fireplaces are in compliance with the fire code.

Property owners will be required to designate a local point of contact who can quickly respond in person to any complaints about their guests. And either guests or the property owner could be fined for violations. Penalties could escalate with repeat violations, and more than three citations in a year could result in a vacation rental permit being revoked.

Vacation rental owners within a residential association may request an exemption from the short-term rental ordinance and must demonstrate that the association requirements meet or exceed the ordinance including enforcement capabilities. Single-family homes in resort areas managed by the resort are also eligible for an exemption if they meet those requirements.

Fee amounts for the permits are $200.18 for professionally managed properties and $337.13 for privately managed properties. The fees are intended to cover the estimated annual cost to administer the short-term rental program as well as the cost of fire inspections by local fire departments. Fees for rentals managed professionally are lower because those properties have historically presented fewer code compliance issues and better response to complaints. 

Permit applications will be available starting Jan. 20 on the county’s website at https://www.placer.ca.gov/str. New applications are due by March 31, which will also be the deadline for annual permit renewals. 

Vacation rentals have long been a part of eastern Placer County’s tourism-based economy, and lodging taxes paid by guests are an important source of funding for local infrastructure projects and services. With the rise of online vacation rental booking services like Homeaway and Airbnb, an increasing number of homeowners are offering their properties part-time as lodging.

County staff brought a first draft of the ordinance to the board for consideration Oct. 22. The board approved the introduction of a revised draft of the ordinance Nov. 5 and the final ordinance Nov. 19.