Planning Commission approves recommendations for City Council on short-term rentals



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Speculators Cry for Bailout—from Austin Neighborhoods

Isn't it ironic? We’ve got some capitalist speculators in Austin that wants bailouts—for themselves. At your expense.

They want you to be forced to accept inserting commercial businesses into your neighborhood, possibly right next door to you. These commercial businesses are boutique hotels, also known as commercial short term rentals—homes bought as investments to use as hotels that rent out for less than thirty days, often for a weekend at a time. This is illegal and always has been. But, there was a public hearing on this topic at city council last week and five council members voted on first reading to allow this. We need to speak up and halt this.

All the new condo towers downtown do not allow short term rentals. Having short term renters displace residents who are committed, long-term neighbors is disruptive and harms quality of life. And, again, it's illegal. It's not fair to change the rules after the game has started.

It's a land use/zoning issue:
1. Stability of neighborhoods, schools, and churches- CSTR's reduce the number of citizens in a neighborhood who create the fabric of society.
2. Citizen safety in neighborhoods- CSTR's customers are not residents. These customers constantly come and go, so residents no longer know who belongs in the neighborhood. The result is neighborhood crime watch programs are weakened.
3. The loss of voting, contributing citizens of Austin- neighbors get pushed out and are replaced with CSTR customers.
4. Housing costs increase for all Austin citizens- CSTR's reduce the supply of housing stock and drive up prices.
5. And a vote by 5 council members leads to undermining the city's new master plan- CSTR's violate multiple tenets of Imagine Austin, the new upcoming Austin comprehensive plan that the city council will be approving within weeks.

CSTR's destroy the quality of life and existence of a neighborhood by converting homes into boutique hotels. CSTR's remove neighbors from neighborhoods. You lose the potential to have a friend, crime watcher, neighborhood volunteer.

If this isn't stopped, our neighborhoods will be turned into commercial boutique hotel zones. The number of CSTR's in Austin are increasing dramatically. There are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 short term rentals in Austin. They may all turn to CSTR's depending on the city council's action.

CSTR's are banned from New York City to Chicago, Telluride, San Francisco and Napa. From Oahu to Portland, Santa Monica, Phoenix to the Florida Keys. Even right here in Rollingwood they are illegal.

Just ask yourself: do you want a commercial short term rental property next door to you and your home? Do you want strangers constantly coming and going from the house next door

Tell city council to do the right thing and keep commercial short term rentals illegal.

Kevin Wier more than 2 years ago

Short term rentals ARE rentals

"If the Commissioners had actually banned the commercial use of residential properties, then the properties would be sold at a reasonable price to young families who wish to live in Central Austin. As it is, ARA keeps the house prices artificially high and young families head out to Pflugerville, Manor, even Lampassas, where they can have a yard for the children. "
This is such an obvious fallacy I don't know where to begin: The ASSUMPTION that IF a property were not to be a STR, it would automatically be sold at a 'reasonable' price to a young family with children flies in the face of the fact that the areas in which short term rentals are located are typically 'high rent districts.' In fact, many people who own STRs use them to help pay the very high property taxes brought about by the high land values in the area, on their own homesteads. The typical short-term rental landlord LIVES in Austin, within less than 5 miles of their property, and further owns only 1 or 2 properties USED as a STR.
The fact is, most young families could not afford these properties, regardless if they were being sold to owner-occupants or landlords of long-term rentals. The aging of the populations of these areas means that fewer children of school age live there; fewer children means less need for schools (another gripe of opponents).

STRs fill a desperate need in the community. Austin works to become a destination city for tourism: SXSW, F1, etc; but does not have accommodations for the tourists. The opponents (a small, but as usual vocal minority) are calling this a 'commercial' use. In truth, STRs actually flux from short term (less than 30 days) to long-term and back. Keeping up with the useage is literally unenforceable. Furthermore, a rental is a rental. I hope no one will suggest that every rental is a commercial use of property, because about 53% of the living units in Austin ARE rentals.

Enrollment of the owners or responsible managers for contact purposes, payment of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT), and a packet of information for renters including the Codes applicable to the property would seem to be a sensible way to go. NOT onerous, time-consuming, bureaucracy-increasing, regulations that will make honest landlords into criminals if they aren't in compliance with various restrictions. Private property rights should be respected. Public needs are met by existing Codes.

Gareth Ellzey more than 3 years ago


Francis Campbell - a loud drunk or a sex offender wearing an ankle bracelet can sign a lease and live next door to you as long as the landlord allows him/her to.

Please point us to the law, statute or ordinance that states that an STR is a "public accomodation."

Rental properties must have smoke alarms. They are not required to have "fire suppression systems," fire doors or fire extinguishers. People who have STRs do not want their property to burn down any more than the renter.

Owner-occupied STRs are appropriately being given different treatment.

Your observations have no basis, and it's very naive to believe that STRs are the only way you may have a (temporary!) bad neighbor. A loud, drunk sex offender can buy the house next door to you.

LNR more than 3 years ago

This is not the compete story

You have overlooked the fact that families with children do not want to have strangers next door -- perhaps even sexual predators or people wearing a GPS ankle bracelet placed by police. They do not want to have their children awaken at midnight when the drunks come noisily rolling home at midnight.

If the Commissioners had actually banned the commercial use of residential properties, then the properties would be sold at a reasonable price to young families who wish to live in Central Austin. As it is, ARA keeps the house prices artificially high and young families head out to Pflugerville, Manor, even Lampassas, where they can have a yard for the children.

You forgot to mention that in Allandale, with only 8 transient rental properties, there has been a fire after the tenants left, two home invasions where the tenants went to the wrong home and tried to evict the lawful owners during dinner! You forgot to talk about the van loads of drunks arriving after midnight trying to figure which property that they have rented by going door to door and waking the neighbors.

You forgot to mention that STRs are "public accommodations" under American Disabilities Act and yet few, if any, comply with ADA. However, B&Bs and hotels and motels comply.

You forgot that the STRs do not have fire suppression systems and fire doors or fire extinguishers, even though some of the rentals are finished attics that will be difficult to egress in the event of a fire.

It is doubtful that the owners of these transient rental properties have the correct coverage to cover injury or death of a renter in the event of a fire or other catastrophy. They are quite likely to have bought homeowners insurance which will be unlikely to pay off when the insurer finds out that the property was being rented on a regular basis and the owner was not resident.

Renters should demand proof of insurance coverage. They should demand fire suppression, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. The life you save may be your own or your spouse's.

Francis Campbell more than 3 years ago

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