Council Passes Short-Term Rental Rules
After a month off for the summer, the Austin City Council’s first meeting back was as much about what the council didn’t do as what it actually passed.
Two high-profile concert additions — a second weekend for the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park, and a concert at Auditorium Shores coinciding with the upcoming Formula One race — were both postponed to council’s next meeting. But the council did pass a new plan to regulate short-term rental property in Austin.
Even with more than 100 items on the agenda, short-term rentals loomed over the day.
“We have heard from, gosh, I would say, hundreds of people in the last few weeks, from every part of the city, who have concerns about these issues,” council member Kathie Tovo said.
Debate over short-term rentals grew increasingly heated while the council was on hiatus. But even at a demonstration calling for a ban on neighborhood properties that are exclusively rented out, tempers seemed to be cooling.
“We all need to move on to the next phase, because after all, we are neighbors,” said Tom Nuckols with Protect Austin Neighborhoods. “HomeAway” — a short-term vacation rental company — “their hometown is Austin, so they’re our neighbor and we are theirs.”
In other items, the council approved a ballot measure that would ask voters to change the process that Austin’s city staff go through during disputed personnel decisions like firings; it would give employees job protections similar to those Austin police and firefighters have.
“Our challenge now is to make city of Austin voters understand what this is about, to win the hearts and minds of these voters,” said Greg Powell, business manager for the Local 1624 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that pushed the proposal.
The council’s next regular meeting is Aug. 16.