Council approves short-term rental ordinance

by Ben OlivoNovember 1, 2018
Dignowity Hill has one of the highest concentrations of short-term rentals in San Antonio. FOLO MEDIA FILE PHOTO

This story will be updated.

In an 8-2 vote, the City Council approved an ordinance regulating short-term rentals (STR), a measure neighborhood advocates who spoke at the meeting described as imperfect, but a worthy compromise.

STRs have had to pay the hotel occupancy tax, a requirement under state law, for some time. The regulations passed on Thursday place limits on where and how many STRs, such as AirBnB and Homeaway, are allowed in San Antonio.

Specifically, the regulations limit the volume of Type 2 STRs, the kind that draws the most rancor from neighborhoods, to 12.5 percent of a blockface, or one side of a block from cross street to cross street.

Read a summary of the new regulations.

The city estimates there are between 1,500 and 2000 STRs in operation today.

The new rules, which go into effect immediately, define two types of STRs —Type 1, in which the owner lives in the home; and Type 2, in which the home is unoccupied. The city said there are 400 STR operators currently paying the city's 9 percent hotel occupancy tax.

District 9 Councilman John Courage and District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse voted against the ordinance, but for different reasons.

Courage thinks the ordinance doesn't go far enough in protecting neighborhoods. He attempted to amend language in the ordinance that would prohibit Type 2 STRs from residential neighborhoods. No Council member seconded the motion, so it died instantly.

Brockhouse felt the new rules go too far and interfere with property rights.

"I think it steps way out of line," Brockhouse said. "I think it goes into an over-regulating environment."

During the discussion, District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry asked about enforcement.

City Manager Sheryl Sculley said the city will hire a company to canvas the existing STRs.

"They're supposed to be paying taxes today," Sculley told Perry. "We're going to do an audit on those that exist today and whether or not they are paying. There is no free pass. We will not forgive past taxes."

There are no state regulations for STRs. Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the room it was his understanding that the Texas Legislature, which convenes Jan. 8, may be looking at San Antonio's ordinance as a model for statewide regulations.

District 2 Councilman William "Cruz" Shaw did not attend the meeting.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

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