"A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."
[Note: The House hearing can be viewed here; the STR bill begins about 3ish hours into the broadcast and our testimony is two hours after the bill discussion began.]
Big news out of the legislature on short term rentals; first up, the Senate voted their bill out of the full chamber today:
A Senate bill that would limit local government control of short-term home rentals in Texas passed out of the upper chamber Tuesday in a 21-9 vote.Meanwhile, the House just wrapped up hearing their companion bill; to be honest, the House hearing was more of what anyone who's been following this debate has come to expect.
Under Senate Bill 451 by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, Texas cities would be prevented from banning short-term rentals and their ability to write ordinances restricting the practice would be narrowed. Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth are among the cities that have enacted such restrictions.
Among local policies that would be limited in scope by Hancock's bill: a Fort Worth regulation that requires property owners to obtain a bed-and-breakfast permit only available to homes built before 1993 and an ordinance in Austin that has capped the number of short-term rentals with no live-in owners.
Supporters of the bill shared stories of small scale entrepreneurship and the benefits to their families and communities that resulted. The attacks on their property rights threatened those accomplishments. After being attacked by cities like Austin and Ft. Worth, they're coming to the legislature for help.
|Mayor Adler waiting to testify|
Mayor Adler testified against the bill and attempted to obfuscate the difference between owner occupied and owner offsite short term rentals. While only the latter are fully banned, Austin's ordinance imposes many of the same requirements on owner occupied units. For example, the limitations over how many people can be present on the property applies regardless. Of course, Adler knows this and he was attempting misdirection with the community. In addition to his suggestion to the Mayor that Austin eliminate zoning entirely, we enjoyed watching Representative Gary Elkins school the Mayor on property rights.
Mayor Adler was joined in opposition by hotel industry trade associations, taxpayer funded lobbyists, and 'urban planning' professionals. There were also a couple of local Austin homeowners who shared horror stories about being next to bad STR properties. While we understand the awfulness of the situation they faced, that doesn't change the fact that the issues with which they dealt could have been addressed by enforcing the noise/nuisance ordinances the city already had on the books.
We testified about the frightening enforcement powers the City of Austin claimed for itself out of thin air. The Austin STR ordinance empowers the city code department to perform warantless searches on any property they suspect of being a type-2 STR at any time with no warning. Note that we didn't say the police department has this authority (which we also wouldn't support, but for which we could see a justification)...we said the code department. It doesn't take a genius to see how this this type of authority could grow into something really dangerous. Likewise, in a committee with a Democrat chair (Carol Alvarado), it seemed prudent to mention that in the wrong hands this type of authority could be used in a racially discriminatory way.
Bottom Line: We'll have to see what happens, but these bills are far enough in the process that there's still time.