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Measure Limiting Short-Term Rentals Sparks Debate In South Lake Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (KPIX 5) -- A battle over short term rentals in South Lake Tahoe made the ballot, but now, the voters' decision is partly on hold thanks to the continued debate.

The ballot measure limiting short term rentals and their occupancy passed and was supposed to take effect in January. But a lawsuit and court injunction has that partly on hold until January 24th.

There are more than 1,400 short term rental homes in residential South Lake Tahoe neighborhoods and they are facing major change. In November, voters passed Measure T, which will eliminate short term rentals outside the tourist core by 2021.

Measure T also reduces the maximum occupancy in those homes, effective immediately. It also ends the issuance of any new rental home permits.

Anything outside the tourist core would be affected, including Nancy Leon's neighborhood and ultimately, she says, her livelihood, too.

"Its a lose/lose situation," Leon said. "Because if we don't have tourists coming in, then we don't have jobs, and if we have too many coming in, we don't have housing for the people that live here."

The ballot measure was so contentious that it only passed by 58 votes. It is now being challenged in court.

It was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, but a judge issued a 24-day injunction on enforcement of the occupancy charges because so many people had pre-booked rentals for the holidays under the old rules.

The South Lake Tahoe city council will meet next week in a closed session to decide if it will defend the ordinance or take no action or something in between. Rental home owners and residents alike hang in the balance.

"I mean it does bring money in," said Measure T supporter Kenny Sutton. "These people are going to go gamble, they're going to go eat, but the problem is, there's no place for anyone to live."

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