Arlington city councilmembers wrangled more than an hour Tuesday over the issue of short-term rentals effectively setting the stage for more wrangling.
Mike Bass, the city’s code compliance director, said a clear definition of “transient” housing is needed since that term is currently subject to interpretation in the city code. Typically, a short-term rental is defined as property rented for 30 days or less.
Councilman Charlie Parker, whose District 1 term ends next month, pushed councilmembers for a vote on the matter but some balked saying they wanted more time.
Robert Shepard, District 6 Councilman, said the subject of short-term rentals has been the most difficult to address during his term, and he didn’t want to be heavy-handed and conclude the whole matter with “one fell swoop.”
“The internet has created this animal,” said Parker, who lives in District 1, which includes the city’s entertainment district. Parker said short-term rentals have created problems for his constituents.
According to Bass, there are about 300 short-term rental properties in Arlington, most of which are located in District 1. Bass presented slides comparing how two California cities as well as Austin have handled the issue. However, the presentation lacked any local, comparative information about short- term rental regulations.
Although Austin was portrayed in the presentation as having a “permissive policy,” Austin scored a D, on an A-F rating scale, for short-term rental friendliness, according to roomscore.org,
One of the options presented for consideration during the city council work session was to allow short-term rentals with restrictions. Under that section, 16 possible restrictions were offered for councilmembers to consider including banning the use of “sound equipment that produces sound audible beyond property line during restricted hours.” Social or commercial events were also listed among potential things to be banned.
Parker suggested allowing only property owners with homestead exemptions to rent property out short-term since they would live on the premises and be available to address any problems.
District 5 Councilwoman Lana Wolff then mentioned making an exception for those who owned short-term rental property adjacent to their homestead.
Although Parker said any delay in voting on the subject would only prolong the headache, more wrangling can be expected.