It takes longer to start regulating short-term rentals, recommends Dallas City Attorney

Several Dallas neighborhoods are trying to get the city council to crack down on short-term rentals. Neighbors have complained about noise and crime.

What the city attorney revealed to council members on Wednesday is that if the city rushes to regulate STRs by creating a permitting process, it could grow into STRs in single-family neighborhoods. The city attorney therefore recommended that the city determine where it wants to obtain STRs before beginning to issue permits.

Dallas landlord Angela Sanders has asked the city to keep short-term rentals out of single-family neighborhoods. She said the STRs were taking homes away from families with children who needed them.

“Give them the option of having a backyard instead of a concrete patch that belongs to someone else,” she said.

It’s a sentiment Councilman Omar Narvaez confirmed happened in West Dallas.

“Of these 10 townhouses, eight were purchased by STR companies. Only two will be actual residents of the townhouse community,” he said. “So we literally created a hotel in the middle of this residential community.”

The City of Dallas is still struggling to develop regulations for short-term rentals

Councilman Adam Bazaldua said the city has had enough and needs to act now with a permitting process.

“We need oversight of an industry that has been cracking down,” he said.

Bazaldua argued that the city should start collecting hotel occupancy taxes on rentals.

“We can use regulatory fees collected for code staff who deal directly with STRs. We now have four years of inaction,” he said.

Councilman Paul Ridley argued that Dallas has an advantage in being slow to act: it is able to learn from the mistakes of other cities.

“Once a permit is issued for an STR, they get — according to court rulings — a grandfathered right to maintain that status. This happened in Austin,” he explained. “When they had a problem and wanted to eliminate them, the court decided it was too late.”

Dallas short-term rental recommendations come despite concerns from some council members

Later, a Dallas city attorney revealed that the city needs a lot more time to make sure it doesn’t grant rights to STRs that it can’t later revoke.

“If it can take up to two years, do we do nothing for two years? Is that your recommendation?” Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz asked.

“That would be the safest approach,” the city attorney said.

“I’m going to ask a few more questions as we digest this brand new information that I think is surprising to everyone here at Horseshoes,” Schultz said.

The Dallas city manager said the city could likely complete zoning work in six to seven months while simultaneously working on regulations.

City staff will work to define what STRS are and will likely refer to them as “lodging,” a use that is not permitted in single-family neighborhoods.

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