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New short-term rental ordinance leads to dozens of complaints, fines against homeowners

By Bob Conrad

Washoe County’s newly passed ordinance covering short-term rentals (STR), such as AirBNB and VRBO, has already generated dozens of complaints and fines against homeowners.

County officials today said they have levied more than $12,000 in fines against property owners illegally operating STRs. Only $1,700 has been collected, however. 

Dozens of complaints have been filed against property owners – most for operating the STR without authorization from the county, followed by noise and parking complaints. Those complaints led to 12 confirmed violations. 

“Most all were for operating without a permit,” County Planning Manager Chad Giesinger said.

The county’s ordinance, enforced since the end of August, covers unincorporated Washoe County, including Incline Village and Crystal Bay. It was enacted to deal with problems generated by hundreds of homeowners renting out their homes and condos, causing noise, trash and parties from short term renters.

“Having lived in a condo complex in Incline Village that has tried to limit such rentals, my experience has been very negative.”

The county last year accepted applications for STRs and to date received more than 640 applications.

Most all applications were for properties in the Tahoe area. Nearly 500 of those applications were approved, but the number is far below the previously listed 1,200 STRs in the Tahoe basin, county staff said.

STR applications show 10 people have two or more STRs, and 45 permits were issued to companies operating STRs. Only 135 of the 467 applications were from people in Nevada – more than half of the STRs are owned by people or companies from California.

There is only one person assigned to enforce STR rules, Giesinger said.

They had to “prioritize enforcement resources and focus initial enforcement on properties that were still actively advertising on STR listing platforms … but which had not submitted an STR application by the August 1st enforcement deadline. Approximately 25 properties did not respond nor submit applications. Code enforcement then shifted to focus on those properties with a second round of contact letters and warnings, and ultimately issuance of stop activity orders and penalty notices.”

Growing complaints about STR by homeowners at Tahoe have led residents to encourage increased government oversight.

“Having lived in a condo complex in Incline Village that has tried to limit such rentals, my experience has been very negative because of the noise generated at all times of the day and late into the night, the excessive garbage generated and improperly disposed of it into the community dumpsters (unlocked containers encourage bear investigation),” one resident wrote. “We have had to call the sheriff’s office on a number of occasions because of late night partying.”

Those operating – or wanting to operate – an STR called the county’s process confusing and said the ordinance was too restrictive. 

Commissioners made suggestions for the ordinance to be considered in the future.

Other County Commission items

Provided by Washoe County staff and edited by This Is Reno.

Commission appoints new county treasurer

The Board of County Commissioners appointed Linda Jacobs to the position of Washoe County Treasurer, effective Feb. 28, the retirement date of current Treasurer Tammi Davis, who has worked in the Treasurer’s Office for 24 years. The Treasurer is an elected position with the current term slated to end this year. Jacobs has served as deputy treasurer since 2015, and will fill the role of treasurer through the remainder of Davis’ term.  

“Much has changed during my tenure, but the amazing team that serves in the treasurer’s office remains dedicated and committed to excellent customer service. That has not changed. It’s been an honor to serve alongside each of them, and to serve with each of you, Commissioners, during my time as treasurer,” Davis said. “Our main focus is to ensure continuity for day-to-day ops and special projects, and the best way to do that is to appoint someone who is intimately familiar with our office.” 

Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam and WCSO Captain Corey Solferino sit in on the Washoe County Commission meeting on Jan. 25, 2022. Image: Ty O'Neil / This Is Reno
Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam and WCSO Captain Corey Solferino sit in on the Washoe County Commission meeting on Jan. 25, 2022. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Incline Village constable’s office to be abolished

Commissioners heard a first reading of an ordinance to amend the Washoe County Code to abolish the office of constable in Incline Village. Other constables’ offices in Washoe County were abolished in 1998 as their roles in civil cases became obsolete with the expansion of local law enforcement.  

Most duties of the constable are routinely conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, including executing warrants, making arrests and issuing citations. 

NDOT proposes removal of traffic warning signs on Mt. Rose and Pyramid highways

Advance signal warning systems (ASWS) are the lighted signs that say “Prepare to Stop When Flashing” often placed ahead of signalized intersections. Designed to warn drivers that the stoplight will soon turn to red and therefore slow down, the signals often do the opposite and spur drivers to speed up, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). 

NDOT is working to develop a more unified system that takes into account the specific hazards and situations at each intersection. Commissioners questioned what other tools may be used to keep these high-traffic, high-speed intersections safe. 

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