CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Port Aransas has been known to be a tourist town, but the locals now have to ask 'What is enough tourism?'
“This is something different," said resident Barney Farley. "This is not tourism: this is mega-commerce and mega-bucks."
The issue on some Port Aransas permanent residents' minds is the number of short-term rentals being built in the city, and how quickly they're being built.
“It is eroding our community," said Maggie Sheldon. "It is taxing our infrastructure and it’s pricing people out of our community."
Farley said the last two years have seen "10 years worth of development" in the city whose population, according to city-data.com, was 4,266 in 2019.
"They bought two building lots and put three STR’s," he said. "See some right around the corner.”
With the influx of people cramming into short-term rentals, Sheldon and Farley said there are trash issues, and noise and light pollution, among other disturbances.
“The streets are narrow here, and sometimes they’re (impassable) because cars are parked on both sides," Sheldon said. "And that’s a public-safety issue. Sometimes, there’s fireworks going off over here, and I pray to God that something doesn’t catch on fire.”
Farley said he doesn't mind tourism, but wants Old Town Port Aransas, an area slightly set back from the shoreline, left in tact.
"Some of these people have never seen the house that they bought, property, and built," he said. "It’s just a cash cow for them.”
Locals also are concerned the cost of living is up, and that property taxes and insurance may follow suit.
Sheldon actually rents out the bottom of her house, but the volume of people has become too much.
“We used to have an off-season," she said. "We don’t have an off-season anymore. I don’t enjoy the beach anymore because it’s too crowded. I can’t go into local eateries because they’re too crowded. It’s degrading our community.”
She and Farley said the problem all boils down to the rules just not being enforced.
"Make rules and enforce them because right now we have rules, but they’re not enforceable because we don’t have the manpower to do it," Sheldon said. “There’s just not enough of them. At any time of the year, we’re staffed for a population of about 3,500. And we can have tens of thousands of people here in a weekend. And that begs the question, 'What if we have an emergency?'”
KRIS 6 News tried calling Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan and city manager David Parsons, for comment, but those calls have not been returned.
The Port Aransas city council did mention in last week's regular meeting that it is considering an ordinance to increase the number of trash cans at short-term rentals, and are actively having discussions about parking.