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Dallas council chambers packed as residents voice concerns over short-term rentals

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

The debate over short-term rental properties in the City of Dallas continued at Tuesday's council meeting, as people packed into council chambers to voice their concerns.

Council members heard public remarks from many Dallas residents — and others from outside the city — both in support and opposition to proposed STR regulations.

Many who showed up at city hall erupted with applause after Olive Talley pleaded with council members to block short-term rentals from setting up shop in residential neighborhoods.

Talley, along with other members of the Dallas Neighborhood Coalition crowded into council chambers wearing t-shirts saying “Homes Not Hotels” during Tuesday’s meeting. The group has been vocal about what they say are the dangers of short-term rentals popping up in residential areas around the city.

“It’s time to fix the problem and end the civil war that’s raging in our neighborhoods over short-term rentals,” Talley said. “We are the little guys in this fight. We don’t have a giant PR firm.”

Short-term rentals have been a highly contested subject in Dallas and other cities in the area. In late February, a shooting outside of a Plano rental property led to a stray bullet piercing through a three-year-old’s bedroom window.

The city council will vote on new regulations that would change where short-term rentals can operate — limiting the rentals to mixed zoning areas in the city. The new regulations would also require STR owners to register their property with the city.

Jon Jaimes lived next door to a short-term rental in District 13. He described bringing his newborn daughter home last year, only to be greeted by unfamiliar faces.

“We weren’t greeted by a stork at the front door, but by an armed security guard with a bulletproof vest at the STR next door,” Jaimes said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Jaimes says that residents living near STRs fear retaliation from rental guests if they call the police or complain to the city.

But those opposed to short-term rentals were not the only ones in attendance at the meeting. Many Dallas STR owners voiced their concerns about what they call overly restrictive regulations.

Lisa Sievers and her husband own and operate two short-term rental properties. She says the ordinance would hurt business owners that pay taxes and follow city rules.

“There is absolutely no need to zone us out of existence when no enforcement mechanism has been in place to correct any problem STRs,” Sievers said. “Restrictive zoning will end in taxpayer-funded lawsuits. As a taxpayer that bothers me.”

Sievers says that Dallas deserves more than a “rushed, unenforceable” decision on the short-term rentals.

Jeff Veazy considers himself a small “mom and pop” short-term rental owner. He says not all STR-owners are the same. According to Veazy, neighbors around his rental property have not complained once about people renting the space.

“It is offensive to me as a 50-year resident and support of my neighborhood, now being run out of our neighborhood by anti-STR people,” Veazy said. “It saddens me that we can’t address the real issues of STR party houses, without banning the good ones.”

City officials have been discussing the future of short-term rentals for years. Dallas City Council members were briefed on proposed STR regulations during Tuesday's meeting. The council is set to vote on whether the rentals will be classified as lodging — effectively restricting individuals to run STRs in residential areas.

Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.