Short-Term Rentals on Council Agenda Today
The Austin City Council is back in session today to tackle the big list of items left pending before the council’s summer break. But the issue that has caught the most attention is short term rentals. The council is expected to decide today how it regulates these properties.
Short-term rentals are houses or condos that people rent out for less than 30 days. Some are owner-occupied; others, commercial short-term rentals, are not.
The most vocal groups opposing short-term rentals have come from neighborhoods around downtown. Tom Nuckols lives in one of those neighborhoods and says schools suffer when a home that could be occupied by a family with children is replaced by tourists.
“Tourism and real estate in this town are thriving,” Nuckols said. “If all of these commercial short-term rentals went away tomorrow, the tourism industry would be fine, the real estate industry would be fine. If you take students out of schools, you can’t say that the schools are going to be fine.”
At a meeting Tuesday, council members looked at some numbers compiled by city staff and the Austin school district to see if Nuckols’ argument rings true. The numbers are not final, but city staff counted the single-family homes in a ZIP code and figured out how many could become short-term rentals if the City Council agrees to cap the rentals at 3 percent.
The city says schools within that ZIP code could lose up to 43 students. But as council member Chris Riley pointed out, these numbers do not consider multifamily units.
Jerry Rusthoven with the city’s Planning and Development Review Department compiled the numbers. He had an exchange with council member Chris Riley at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I would agree that if you switched the cap from the ZIP code to the census tract, you would reduce the likelihood that the maximum number of students would be affecting a single school, because obviously you would reach the cap faster within the census tract than you would within the ZIP code,” Rusthoven said.
“So, in other words, you’d eliminate the possibility of affecting 43 students at one school?” Riley said. “Yes,” Rusthoven replied.
Council members should receive updated reports with official numbers before today’s meeting.
Beside the schools’ argument, Austinites opposed to short-term rentals say they are being pushed out of their neighborhood by higher home sale prices that produce higher property taxes in turn.