Douglas County commissioners to consider changes to vacation home rental rules

A plan to extend vacation home rentals beyond the Lake Tahoe Basin is scheduled to go before Douglas County commissioners on Thursday.

County commissioners won't hear the request until 3 p.m. at their meeting in the CVIC Hall in Minden.

While expanding the ordinance to the rest of the county is the biggest proposed change, there are several measures included in the ordinance rewrite to increase enforcement.

There are currently 490 permitted vacation home rentals at Lake Tahoe, where they are considered an important supplement to available lodging.

Community Development Director Mimi Moss said the average room rate for a vacation rental at Tahoe is $259 a night.

Vacation home rentals are considered a residential use under Douglas County code and are currently prohibited in parts of the county outside of the Basin.

Instead, Valley residents who seek to rent out space to vacationers have applied and received permits to operate a bed and breakfast, which requires that the owner be on the property.

Under the ordinance, those wishing to conduct a vacation rental apply for a $400 permit and be inspected.

Moss pointed out that the permit fee could be made up in the first two rentals on average.

Vacation rentals pay the same lodging taxes that any other establishment pays, Moss said.

Planning commissioners are recommending against expanding vacation rentals into the East Fork Township.

Frank Godecke pointed out that the rental market in Carson Valley is tight and demand is high.

"Creating vacation rentals in the Valley creates properties that might otherwise be long-term rentals that will now become vacation housing," he said.

"I don't think that's an appetite we should have."

Jobs Peak repeater goes up in July

Carson Valley residents who'd like an unobstructed view from the top of Jobs Peak have about a month before the U.S. Forest Service installs a repeater on the mountain.

District Ranger Irene Davidson said the repeater was approved in April and should be installed sometime in July.

In a presentation to Alpine County supervisors in January, Carson Ranger District representative Annabelle Monti said the repeater was necessary to improvement field communications.

She said the antenna would not be visible from Carson Valley.

The antenna would provide additional coverage in Markleeville. She said that private cell phone companies were not included in the project and would have to go through the National Environmental Policy Act to expand the project.

The Forest Service received two dozen phone calls and more than 140 contacts about the repeater, most of which were opposed.

The Forest Service conducted an environmental analysis to erect a radio repeater on the landmark peak to improve radio communications.

According to the Forest Service, the repeater, shelter, solar panels and a 20-foot antenna would be helicoptered to the top of the mountain.

The shelter will be 5-feet square, according to the Forest Service.

According to the Forest Service, there are areas in the Carson Ranger District that do not have radio coverage. Radio specialists determined that Jobs Peak would be the best place for improved radio coverage. Solar panels would be placed next to the shelter to power the transmitter. No digging or other ground disturbance would be required.

Officials called the transmitter use minor, saying there is no circumstances warranting more analysis or documentation in an environmental analysis or an environmental impact statement.