Douglas County OKs fire inspections for VHRs

Fire inspectors will take over safety inspections of vacation home rentals starting July 1 after Douglas County commissioners approved revisions to the fire code on April 4.

The revision includes requiring sprinklers for new homes under 5,000 square feet in more remote portions of the East Fork Township.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Anne Martin said the code change will transfer responsibility for inspections from Douglas County Community Development to the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District.

Vacation rentals are only allowed in the Tahoe Township with a permit. They are not allowed in the East Fork Township, though a task force has been formed to explore their expansion.

The inspection is one of the requirements for obtaining a permit.

Martin said there is no specific requirement vacation rentals have sprinklers.

"A VHR would be treated the same as my residence or your residence," she said. "The inspections would be in lieu of, not in addition, to the inspections done by Community Development."

Tahoe Douglas Fire Marshal Eric Guevin said that the average VHR occupancy is 10.3 people, with the largest vacation rentals containing 26 people.

There are 484 registered vacation rentals in the district. Guevin said there are 639 active rentals in the district, so there are more than 100 that have yet to obtain permits.

Guevin said an unmaintained wood stove set fire to a vacation home rental that actually burned down in Zephyr Cove recently.

Sierra Nevada Realtors President Leslie Cain said her group has concerns about requiring the life-safety inspections.

"Realtors believe homeowners have the right to rent, sell, occupy or leave empty their homes," she said. "Limiting a homeowners' property use in any way is taking away their rights."

Retired East Fork Fire Investigator Terry Taylor, who is now an unpaid lobbyist for two fire associations, said vacation rentals are sometimes ill equipped to be rented out.

"They are not hotel rooms, they are houses," he said. "When you rent your house out to somebody, it darn well better be safe."

County commissioners also approved adopting the International Wildland Urban Interface Code in Tahoe Township.

Guevin said the same code is expected to be presented for East Fork Township in the future.

Today, Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to hear a request for a bed and breakfast at 1755 Foothill Road.

Under county ordinance, the owner of a bed and breakfast must reside on the property while it's being rented.

Planning commissioners meet 1 p.m. in the historic Douglas County Courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.

Motorhome driver may face more charges

Prosecutors may up the ante in the case of a California man accused of driving his motorhome from Stateline to Gardnerville with deputies in a fiery pursuit last summer.

Christopher Debastiani, 48, denied a charge of felony attempted eluding on Tuesday, April 2, in Douglas County District Court.

Prosecutor Ric Casper notified the court that he planned on amending the complaint against Debastiani by adding three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Aug. 26 chase.

A three-day trial is scheduled for July 31 through Aug. 2.

Judge Tod Young set a second arraignment for the new charges on April 11.

Prosecutors seek death penalty against man accused of killings in Douglas, Washoe counties

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against an El Salvadoran accused of shooting four Western Nevada residents in January.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson announced there were sufficient aggravating circumstances to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Wilbur Martinez-Guzman.

Among the circumstances were Martinez-Guzman, 19, is accused of committing the murders during the commission of a burglary.

“After careful deliberation, we reached the conclusion that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and we are filing notice that we intend to seek the death penalty.”

Martinez-Guzman was accused of 10 felony counts related to the murders of Jerry and Sherri Davis killed in their south Reno home Jan. 16 as well as Connie Koontz, who was discovered in her Gardnerville Ranchos home Jan. 10, and Sophia Renken, found dead in her home a mile away from the Koontz residence Jan. 13.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said the Washoe County Grand Jury returned 10 counts in the case on Wednesday.

That will allow the case to skip justice court proceedings and go directly to district court.

He said District Judge Connie Steinheimer will hear the arraignment in the case.

Jackson said the decision to seek the death penalty was made in consultation with the families of the victims.

Four more members added to Douglas County VHR task force

STATELINE, Nev. — Two Lake Tahoe and two Carson Valley members have been added to the list of 11 members of a task force designed to examine vacation home rentals in Douglas County.

Tahoe residents Ralph Tognetti and Ben Johnson, and Valley residents Margaret Pross and John Zemlock were selected to join the now 15-member task force.

The list of members was expanded after county commissioners noted the original list seemed to favor rentals.

Acting Community Development Director David Lundergreen said the first meeting of the task force will be held shortly after the new county manager takes office, which could be March 11.

VHRs are currently only legal in Tahoe Township, where there are 546.

There were 450 unpermitted rentals at Lake Tahoe and in East Fork, Acting County Manager Jenifer Davidson told commissioners in January.

She said that's down from the 1,290 noncompliant properties. Since November, 65 property owners have applied for new permits.

Letters were sent to 80 vacation rental operators and 66 are now in compliance. The rest have been sent a second notice to come into compliance by the end of the month. Failure to do so carries a $5,000 fine, Davidson said.

A dozen of those are located in Carson Valley. The letters prompted three to apply for a permit to operate a bed and breakfast.

Unlike the vacation rentals, a bed and breakfast requires that the owner occupy the property while people are there. That process requires a public hearing before the planning commission.

Already appointed to the committee are:

Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority's Carol Chaplin

Zephyr Cove GID Chairman Mickie Hempler

Glenbrook Rental Program LLC's Kevin Kjer

Summit Village HOA President Lauren Romain

Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce Director Steve Teshara

Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors representative Natalie Yannish.

Genoa Lakes HOA's Dan Aynesworth

Carson Valley Golf Course owner Tom Brooks

Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Bill Chernock

Business owner Dana Reed

Carson Valley Visitors Authority Director Jan Vandermade

Four more members added to Douglas County VHR task force

STATELINE, Nev. — Two Lake Tahoe and two Carson Valley members have been added to the list of 11 members of a task force designed to examine vacation home rentals in Douglas County.

Tahoe residents Ralph Tognetti and Ben Johnson, and Valley residents Margaret Pross and John Zemlock were selected to join the now 15-member task force.

The list of members was expanded after county commissioners noted the original list seemed to favor rentals.

Acting Community Development Director David Lundergreen said the first meeting of the task force will be held shortly after the new county manager takes office, which could be March 11.

VHRs are currently only legal in Tahoe Township, where there are 546.

There were 450 unpermitted rentals at Lake Tahoe and in East Fork, Acting County Manager Jenifer Davidson told commissioners in January.

She said that's down from the 1,290 noncompliant properties. Since November, 65 property owners have applied for new permits.

Letters were sent to 80 vacation rental operators and 66 are now in compliance. The rest have been sent a second notice to come into compliance by the end of the month. Failure to do so carries a $5,000 fine, Davidson said.

A dozen of those are located in Carson Valley. The letters prompted three to apply for a permit to operate a bed and breakfast.

Unlike the vacation rentals, a bed and breakfast requires that the owner occupy the property while people are there. That process requires a public hearing before the planning commission.

Already appointed to the committee are:

Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority's Carol Chaplin

Zephyr Cove GID Chairman Mickie Hempler

Glenbrook Rental Program LLC's Kevin Kjer

Summit Village HOA President Lauren Romain

Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce Director Steve Teshara

Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors representative Natalie Yannish.

Genoa Lakes HOA's Dan Aynesworth

Carson Valley Golf Course owner Tom Brooks

Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Bill Chernock

Business owner Dana Reed

Carson Valley Visitors Authority Director Jan Vandermade