PORT ARANSAS, Texas — On Thursday, Port Aransas city council is set to discuss the topic of short term rentals.
We reported last month the mayor, residents and some city council members have taken issue with short term rentals.
Common issues are noise, parking, trash and partying. One resident said corporations have started buying up some properties to use as short term rentals. They hike up the price thus pricing locals out of their own community. Also it makes it harder to find those homes for longer stays.
These same complaints are heard across the country, from here to Michigan and ocean to ocean. How to address STR's is still in early stages. Many cities are still discussing what to do, but a few have taken action with new bills.
San Diego, CA has taken some of the biggest steps in limiting STR's. They had about 16,000 STR's until a bill was passed this spring. Of the 16,000, they estimate only 6,600 were registered with the city. Now only one percent of the housing stock is allowed to be an STR. It’s brought the total down to about 5,400 and that’s determined by a lottery system, although, “good actors” will be prioritized.
The city of San Diego did not respond in time for interview.
On the other side of the country, Southport, NC is trying to reduce the growth of STR's as well. Southport is a waterfront town of about 3,000 people. Over 100 STR's exist according to Alderman John Allen.
Their board of alderman passed an ordinance stating STR's can only be in residential zoned areas, they must register with the city and an emergency contact must be within 20 miles of the city.
“The biggest thing that it does is it just prevents the future growth of them," said Allen. "We’ve had a 32 percent increase in short term vacation rentals in Southport, over the past year.”
In Arizona, the state passed a law in 2016 not allowing cities to ban or regulate short term rentals. Scottsdale has then turned it’s attention to enforcement. They estimate there are 5,000 STR's and only 600 are registered with the state, county and city.
The city created a working group that created recommendation which in turn were unanimously passed by city council.
First was to create a better relationship with code enforcement and police. They now have access to the same data tracking program that tracks problem houses.
“We have also set up a task force with the police and with code enforcement," Betty Janik said, vice mayor of Scottsdale. "So, that they are talking to each other more and we now have some dedicated police that will deal with this and that are trained in how to deal with it.”
Another action was to work with booking companies like AirBNB, VRBO and Expedia to increase compliance. Bookings should have their license number listed and an emergency contact.
The city is in the process of hiring a third party to track their rental properties. They will identify which houses are STR's and have not registered.
Other recommendations were to increase fines and put more into educating the renters and the owners on the appropriate process and behavior.
“Next thing is to have the different ordinances strengthened," said Janik. "Especially the noise ordinance in how we define it and how we define nuisance ordinances. And then we need to respond better, the police need to respond better.”
Port Aransas is a major tourist city. Janik said STR's are a significant part of Scottsdale’s economy. She estimated it’s 17 percent of the tax revenue. Janik doesn’t expect a dip in their economy with the new recommendations.
As for Southport, Allen said they are a spot for tourists to visit, but they are mostly people making day trips. He said Southport is mostly a retirement community, therefore their economy wouldn’t be hurt, limiting STR's.
“We didn’t want to eliminate them," he said. "We’re happy to have short term rentals. We’re happy to have tourists and visitors here, but we’re not a beach community. There’s a level of appropriateness I guess for different communities and we’re just trying to find that appropriate level.”
Port Aransas city council meets at 5 p.m. on Thursday at city hall.