What started as an effort by the Austin City Council to give code officers the ability to enforce existing Short Term Rental (STR) regulations has turned into the council banning all Type 2 (non-owner occupied) STRs in neighborhoods.
Many people in the STR industry say the vote will greatly impact their business. Brooke Andrus is one of those people. She manages about 30 STRs , both owner occupied and non-owner occupied across the city.
Her company, Emerson Guest Properties, employs 11 people.
"We're actually all women," said Andrus. "We're all mothers, we have young children and it has been a real joy for me to be able to give women and young mothers the opportunity to work part time, you know at a decent job."
During its work session Tuesday, the Council voted to phase out all Type 2 STRs in residential neighborhoods by April 1, 2022.
"I feel liberated," said Kristen Hotopp who lives near a Type 2 STR that's known for hosting loud parties.
"We'll be able to get our lives back. This has come at considerable cost to our families," Hotopp said. Then added the problem is bigger than bad neighbors.
"It's about the sanctity of residential zoning. It's about the fact that we are in a housing crisis and we are, have been steadily converting residential housing units to tourist lodging," said Hotopp.
But Austin-based company HomeAway, the largest company used to advertise and book STRs, isn't giving up on keeping Type 2 STRs in Austin.
"We had been working with the City of Austin for quite some time as they addressed this policy and we will continue to reach out to them in hopes of making it different," said Walter Gonzales who handles Government Relations for HomeAway.
Last November, the council passed a one-year moratorium on issuing new Type 2 STR licenses, so they could study the issue. Council also decided Tuesday that after that moratorium expires, the city will not issue any new Type 2 licenses. That, however, creates a grey area. The phase-out only applies to Type 2 STRs in areas zoned as residential. So homes in areas zoned as Public Utilty Districts or downtown, for example, can still be used as Type 2 STRs, but city staff say it's their understanding that if homeowners don't already have a license, they won't be able to get one.
Council also made some minor changes to regulations regarding owner-occupied, or Type 1, STRs. They defined when occupancy limits will be in place, voting that limits do not apply when homeowners are having their own guests over and they decided to get rid of the rule requiring owners keep a guest registry.