Thursday, April 14, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

Ethics complaint against CM Renteria delayed

Did City Council Member Pio Renteria violate city code by participating in recent revisions to the Short Term Rental Ordinance? That question will be left for another day, after a Wednesday night ruling that the complaint filed by Thomas Clark against Renteria needs some work.

At its most recent meeting, the Ethics Review Commission was tasked with answering a handful of questions about Renteria’s participation in recent amendments to the Short Term Rental Ordinance.

But, in the end, members had only one answer for Clark. They explained that, as written, the complaint addresses rules that applied to those who serve on the city’s boards and commissions, not Council members. The complaint will therefore need to be refiled within the next 10 days in order to be heard at the commission’s next meeting, which will take place on May 11.

The complaint against Renteria alleges that the District 3 representative violated conflict-of-interest rules when he participated in making changes to the city’s Short Term Rental Ordinance even though he was an owner and operator of a short-term rental unit. Clark also alleges that Renteria operated the rental for two years without registering it, skirting taxes and fees in the process.

In February of this year, Renteria voted in favor of a revised Short Term Rental Ordinance that included a provision to phase out Type 2 STRs.

In a letter to the commission, Renteria explained that he had operated a Type 1 short-term rental with his wife beginning in 2014, but that ended in March 2015. He wrote that, when Council began considering regulations on Type 2 short-term rentals in summer 2015, he and his wife were no longer operating a rental and obviously paid no Hotel Occupancy Taxes for that time period as a result.

“The crux is that contrary to Mr. Clark’s claims, I did not stand to gain financially from my actions on the dais,” wrote Renteria. “The intent of my actions was to prevent irresponsible STR Type-II operators from subjecting families in neighborhoods throughout the City to constant nuisances and disruptions.”

Renteria, who was present at the meeting, thanked the commissioners for their service.

Photo by Loty made available through a Creative Commons license

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

City of Austin Ethics Review Commission: The Ethics Review Commission is charged with review of, among other issues, ethics complaints leveled against City of Austin boards and commission members. They meet quarterly.

Pio Renteria: The Austin City Council member for District 3

short term rentals: Properties rented for fewer than 30 days.

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