Council calls special meeting to discuss Short-Term Rentals

There are a couple of different types of "Short Term Rentals" or STR's.
Type 1 is when a homeowner decides to take off for a weekend and rent the place out -- say during SXSW.

Type 2 is a property with the sole purpose of being rented out year round.
That's the type Tracy Smith is fighting against.

"They are in our neighborhoods, which it's a residential zone and they are operating as hotels, nobody lives there.  There's no neighbors.  We don't know who is coming and going," Smith said.

Last week council supported a one-year moratorium on Type 2's but it won't take effect until the ordinance is final.

Mayor Steve Adler recognizes that many Austinites are using STR's to bring in income.

"In an affordability-challenged period we can't take that away.  But we need to control it to make sure that it fits within our neighborhoods," Adler said.

Adler is pushing for STR's to strictly be a place to sleep, not a venue.  Because noise and outdoor partying is a big problem.

"They're not going to be properties for mass gatherings of large groups of people for weddings or for concerts," he said.

During Tuesday's meeting, the council showed support for some of the mayors ideas to make enforcement easier.

Those include no more than 10 to 12 people staying in an STR.

No more than 6 people should "gather" outside at any given time and after 10 pm none of the short term tenants should be hanging out outside of the property.

Council member Ellen Troxclair was a little worried about that.

"I think with what we passed so far we could have a 4 bedroom house with 8 people in it and only 6 of them are ever able to go outside so I'm worried know a photograph of the 8 people who are staying in the house who are not having gatherings outside who are being responsible and quiet -- simply walking out to their car would mean that they're violating our codes," Troxclair said.

Mayor Adler assured Troxclair that would not be the case.

The council also decided code enforcement officers should be able to issue noise citations to STR's instead of APD having to respond.

Council member Don Zimmerman is worried this will just create a revenue stream for the city.

"The city is not incentivized to fix the problem.  They're incentivized to write citations.  It's kind of like the red light camera problem that we have.  It becomes less about safety and more about an automated system to collect money," Zimmerman said.

Council also showed support for allowing citizens to submit their own photos of violations.
Mayor Adler says they'll continue to talk about STR's at the October 8th meeting.
Adler says in early to mid-November, we should see the staff-proposed ordinance with respect to the work they've already done on the STR rules.