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Short-term rental controversy headed to full Dallas City Council

Photograph of signs opposing short-term rentals in Dallas.
Courtesy of Olive Talley
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Many Dallas homeowners are concerned about the growing number of short-term rentals in their neighborhoods.

A Dallas committee that is struggling to reach consensus on the regulation of short-term rentals now wants the full city council to get more involved.

At a meeting Tuesday of the Dallas City Council's Quality of Life, Arts, and Culture committee, members squabbled about recent recommendations made by a task force that would provide more oversight over short-term rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Among the recommendations:

  • Requiring all short-term rentals to register.
  • Limiting occupancy at STRs.
  • Requiring STR owners to give guests at the home and neighbors within 100 feet an emergency number.
  • Establishing guest parking requirements for STRs in residential neighborhoods.
STR Proposals.jpeg
City of Dallas

The committee supported some of the recommendations, but didn’t agree on others. That’s what prompted the decision to get the full council involved.

Council member Paul Ridley wants even more regulation than the task force proposed.

“The specific provisions recommended by the task force are incomplete and will be totally ineffective,” Ridley said.

Ridley wants zoning rules that would limit where STRs can operate.

Council member Omar Narvaez favored letting the city’s Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee recommend where STRs should be allowed.

For years, homeowners have complained about safety concerns, parking congestion, trash and noise. Dallas short-term rental opponents want zoning to keep STRs out of residential neighborhoods.

Short-term rental supporters said they’ve helped provide temporary housing for essential workers during the COVID pandemic and helped have added tourist dollars to the Dallas economy.

The city of Dallas currently requires STRs to register, but officials say not all of them do. As of last month, more than 1,000 STRs were registered with the city. STR opponents say that is only about a fifth of the total in Dallas.

Short-term rentals also are supposed to pay a hotel occupancy tax. But committee members pointed out that only registered STRs pay those taxes — and that the task force’s recommendations do not provide enough accountability and oversight on the registration process.

“The platforms are driving these regulations. Never once have we ever allowed for an industry to regulate themselves,” Narvaez said.

An Airbnb representative said efforts are being made to address the concerns of homeowners and city officials.

Narvaez and other council members believe STRs are worsening the city’s severe shortage of affordable housing.

“The affordability is draining in our city. We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths and say that we are going to work on workforce housing inside of the city of Dallas and then turn around and say we're going to allow hotel STR investors to purchase what little housing we have in the city of Dallas,” Narvaez said.

Committee chairman Adam Bazaldua wanted to act on the recommendations.

“Now it's time for the policy body to actually take up what is just recommendations and see what can be implemented now to provide some sort of immediate relief,” he said.

Dallas City Hall
Shutterstock

But the committee could not agree on what regulations to set and decided to seek input from other city leaders.

“I do think there needs to be more thought provided into this. This is not an anti this or anti that. This is to fix a problem,” council member Paula Blackmon said.

The full council will now be briefed on the task force recommendations at an upcoming meeting. Blackmon hopes the council can provide guidance and direction to the committee.

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Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.