Bettina Meier will spend the next two months in Austin as part of the Arthur Burns Fellowship. The program sends American reporters to Germany and German reporters to the United States.
This is KUT's second Burns Fellow to visit. The previous German visitor, Nichole Markwald, told Meier she should go to Austin and work at KUT. While trying to find a place to live, she stumbled across a connection between Austin and her home in Berlin.
My biggest problem before coming here was finding a place to live. So I stumbled over the issue of short-term rentals in Austin. I found that renting a place for longer than 30 days is more accepted, so I ended up renting a garage apartment from an Austin-native outside the downtown area.
Short-term rentals in Berlin have been an ongoing problem, particularly in my district -- close to the Brandenburg Gate -- where hotel prices rise during the summer. The problem became pronounced when tourists started renting out apartments in central residential areas, especially in the former eastern part of Berlin, where people live in large concrete apartment buildings.
Your neighbors are just a doorstep away and you can hear everything going on around you. Once, the police pulled 32 people out of a two-bedroom apartment where a party was going on. This is not uncommon and parties in Berlin usually start around midnight and can last until the early morning, even during the workweek.
How to solve a problem like that in a city whose popularity is growing and is trying to remain friendly to tourists? While Austin's City Council is struggling to find a solution, it might consider looking to Berlin for answers.