From artificially inflating rental costs to pricing neighbors out of residential areas to disruptive visitors, short-term rentals (STRs) pose a problem. But in Plano, the issue has taken the front stage. Now Dallas Plan Commission passed a simple solution to keep the practice away from residential areas that could work as a blueprint for other cities.
In October, the arrests of two women in connection with an alleged sex-trafficking ring taking place in a short-term rental caused many residents, including Police Chief Ed Drain, to speak up against the practice in a City Council meeting.
When the time of voting to regulate STRs came in mid-November, Plano City Council delayed the decision arguing that more information had come out about possible regulations and decided to hold an executive meeting to discuss the new information. A report by KERA discovered that a real estate advocacy group that supports the owners of the rentals donated campaign contributions to all city council members.
Taking the campaign contributions and alleged sex-trafficking ring aside, Dallas and Fort Worth are dealing with a similar problem and both cities have already taken action.
On December 8, the Dallas City Plan Commission members held a nine-hour-long meeting to discuss the regulation, use of specific permits, or the outright banning of the rental practice.
“We’ve received hundreds of letters. We’ve heard testimony today with overwhelming support for defining short-term rental as a lodging use and removing them from our residential districts,” said Plan Commissioner Joanna Hampton after a split vote approved the referred as the “keep it simple” solution.
By defining STRs as lodging the city is limiting the rentals to specific areas where such uses are allowed while prohibiting the practice from residential areas.
In Fort Worth, a similar discussion has been going on for months with advocates and opponents participating in several City Council meetings. In the most recent work session on December 6, council members said they will keep the ban on STRs and they’ll vote on a registration ordinance in January to require legal STRs in mixed-use and commercial areas to pay the same taxes as hotel occupancy.
“The approach of city staff and council on the issues surrounding short-term rentals continues to be measured, detailed, methodical and driven by data,” Director of Media Relations Steve Stoler told Local Profile when reached out for comment on the campaign contributions. “During the course of their political campaigns, city council members receive an array of contributions from across the Plano community. That said, council members make decisions as a whole based on what is best for Plano.”
There’s no new meeting scheduled to vote on the matter yet, but with new information and these neighboring cities' examples, Plano City Council might be better equipped to make the decision.