Placer County votes to restrict vacation rentals in Tahoe

As the housing crisis continues in the Tahoe Basin, the Placer County Board of Supervisors plans to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would permanently limit the number of vacation rentals.

The new rule would replace an urgency ordinance the council passed last year, which imposed a 45-day moratorium on new short-term rental permits, and stipulates that no more than 4,300 permits may be active at any one time.

The limit for new permits would go into effect on March 22.

Homeowners who live permanently in the community and want to rent out a room or second unit must still obtain a permit, but are not subject to the limit, the county said.

The county issued 2,350 permits in 2021, which according to last year’s meeting documents is “about 400-500 additional properties” that have been leased since 2020.

The decision to address short-term rental permits came on the heels of a historic 2021 summer season for residents of Tahoe Basin, in which an unprecedented hemorrhage from local workers forced many businesses to cut hours significantly.

The dwindling housing stock and rising costs forced many long-term residents to leave the area as cash buyers from the Bay Area and Sacramento stormed the real estate market, pricing out local buyers.

The region’s median income of $86,600 is not nearly enough to afford a home in the region, said board chairman Cindy Gustafson, who represents the Tahoe area, last year.

The value of a typical home in South Lake Tahoe increased by about $181,000, or 41%, to $624,000 between June 2020 and June 2021, about double the growth rate in the rest of the Sacramento metro area, according to Zillow.com.

As of January 2017, the city has issued only about 100 construction permits for new homes, according to the US Census Bureau.

Home prices have been rising elsewhere around Lake Tahoe, though not as quickly. All California zip codes around Lake Tahoe saw home values ​​rise between 20% and 34%.

These factors contributed to a sharp decline in the number of housing available to full-time residents, forcing some to leave the area permanently or endure long commutes.

“It’s a crisis at the affordable level, but it’s also at the middle-income level, and that’s part of the tragedy,” Supervisor Gustafson said of the issue last year. “You lose that part of the community and you become the haves and have-nots.”

If the new regulation is passed, current licensees must apply for renewal before the March 22 deadline.

Molly Sullivan covers Folsom, Roseville, and Placer County, as well as police responsibilities, for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is a Chico State alumna.

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