Saturday, January 14, 2012

Austin Rental Alliance Wins a Battle

Austin, TX 1/12/12

Austin Council member William Spelman stated "The right thing for us to do, rather than pass (a vacation rental) ordinance in a vacuum, is to collect some information that everyone can agree on.", when he argued for a resolution to suspend code review concerning vacation rentals

Spelman's resolution was co-spondored by Council member Chris Riley, and states that they should direct the City Manager to temporarily suspend the code amendment process that has been initiated relating to short term rentals, and direct the City Auditor to initiate a study of short term rentals.

A council meeting on 1/12/12 was widely attended by Austin Rental Alliance members - a group that represents short term rental owners. At this meeting Spelman and Riley held their ground - insisting that any new law should be based on facts, and that the council should not act until they actual information to assess the situation with.

Bob Easter, a homeowner who co-owns two short-term rentals, also spoke in favor of the proposal. "As a businessperson, I can't imagine making a decision without facts," Easter said. "What is the problem with receiving facts?"

Other council members objected, speaking about problems with sex offenders, drugs and neighborhoods in decline. Spelman prevailed - the council voted 5 to 2 in favor of educating themselves about vacation rentals and their impacts on the city, before the consider a new VR ordinance.

The Austin City Auditor will conduct a 90 days study of Short Term Rentals, including consideration of tax compliance, zoning issues and police calls. The rental alliance has put out a call for all vacation rental owners to make sure they are in full compliance with existing laws, and to get involved in supporting those council members that argue for fact-based legislation.

~ Doug Coates

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