Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Mayor, Troxclair check in at the Capitol to talk short-term rentals

Mayor Steve Adler and City Council Member Ellen Troxclair took their disagreement over the city’s short-term rental regulations to the Texas Capitol on Tuesday evening.

Both testified before the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce on Senate Bill 451, a measure that reverses new rules passed by Council last year.

Those rules are set to take effect on April 1 and will aim to phase out STR Type 2s in residential zones by 2022. The city’s original regulations defined STR Type 2s as any home or condo not occupied by the owner. The category has earned heavy opposition from residents concerned with the carousel of temporary neighbors made possible by companies such as HomeAway and Airbnb.

Adler on Tuesday told the committee that the city’s rules still allow homeowners to pick up extra cash by occasionally renting out their residences. However, he maintained that STR Type 2s are incompatible with neighborhoods.

“It’s a very different animal. It’s no longer a sharing economy. It’s something else,” Adler said.

He explained that the city has had trouble enforcing code requirements on STR Type 2s that are owned by corporations. “In a neighborhood, neighbors know each other, and that becomes self-regulating,” he said.

The mayor also told committee Chair Kelly Hancock, the primary author of SB 451, that STR Type 2s pose a threat to affordability by removing scarce housing stock from neighborhoods.

“Understand that we allow the investor facilities. We just don’t allow them in the middle of neighborhoods,” said Adler.

Troxclair began her testimony by pointing out the “differing opinions” that exist between her, Adler and the rest of Council. Last year, she was one of the only two votes against the city’s new STR regulations. Then-Council Member Don Zimmerman joined her in the opposition.

She told the committee that in banning STR Type 2s, Council chose to “punish the vast majority of responsible property owners.” She pointed to a 2015 study that showed that the majority of complaints the city fielded about short-term rentals were concerned with non-STR Type 2s.

“Instead of enforcing existing regulations related to noise, health, safety, environment, traffic, et cetera, the city chose to completely eliminate full-time short-term rentals,” Troxclair said. She maintained that property owners are set to lose access to a revenue stream even as the city’s cost of living continues to rise.

The committee took no action on SB 451 on Tuesday. A companion bill filed by state Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) has not yet received a referral to any House of Representatives committee.

Photo by Daniel Mayer made available through a Creative Commons license.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Ellen Troxclair: Austin City Council member for District 8

Mayor Steve Adler: Mayor of the city of Austin, elected in November 2014

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

strs

Texas State Legislature

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