Text Box: See more in our online edition at www.eastcesarchavez.org
Text Box: Summer  2011

Vol. 10, No. 4

Text Box: Inside this issue:

A message from one of our ECC business reps, Kathy Setzer, (512) 775-6436


I served on a City task force dealing with creating new policies regarding using homes in single family neighborhoods as vacation rental units also called short term rentals (STRs). I want to share a quick update and welcome your thoughts and feedback. For those who don’t know me yet, my husband and I are opening a small Inn at 1609 E. Cesar Chavez Street. I volunteered to serve on the STR task force to represent small hotels who are committed to be good neighbors with nearby residents. 


I think this issue is EXTREMELY important for the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. If you look at a map of where these businesses are located (almost 600 of them in Austin registered with online rental services), they are concentrated in areas around the Central Business District, and most are currently in the SoCo/Zilker/Travis Heights areas. I am concerned that East Austin will be a target for corporations or private, big

money interests that want to buy a large number of tracts and replace our housing -- affordable housing -- with these "residential hotel" businesses.


I feel it is important that we keep the houses in our neighborhood used as homes for permanent residents; this is important for maintaining the purpose and character of our neighborhood, for keeping housing affordable, for maintaining close relationships between neighbors who look out for each other, and for keeping our neighborhood family oriented so our schools stay open.


I want to clarify that the properties that are of concern are the homes being used as full-time businesses, renting every weekend of the year to out-of-town guests. This regulation is not intended to impact individuals who (1) rent their homes by the month or longer, or (2) individuals who rent their homes for less than 15 days a year, for example during SXSW and ACL, although some requirements apply to these uses. 


Our task force presented to the Austin Neighborhoods’ Council last month and there is a lot of concern about this commercial use coming in without neighborhoods being able to opt in/out or designate properties as not appropriate for this use (e.g. the houses around schools, daycare, etc. might not be the most appropriate for transient lodging).


The Planning Commission workgroup is now in the process of revising their final recommendation to City Council.  I am concerned that City Council  is being lobbied really hard right now by HomeAway (online rental service corporation valued at $2 billion) and landlords who are using single family homes as vacation rentals. They feel that STRs should not be heavily regulated. Several task force members worry that the proposal that will be adopted by Planning Commission will not go far enough to protect neighborhood interests. 


We only have a few weeks to weigh in! We need help from residents to help us push hard on these 3 issues:
1) STRs must require a Conditional Use Permit or there must be some other method for neighborhoods to indicate how these properties should be integrated into our residential neighborhoods to help prevent us from being overrun
2) 1000 foot separation (minimum) between units rented as STRs to avoid businesses taking out entire residential blocks

3) Regulation should favor residents who want to rent the properties they own as individuals, rather than corporations and other businesses that want only to run businesses for profit in our residential neighborhoods

I urge you to contact Planning Commissioners and City Council members if you share my concern or if you would be concerned about one of these businesses opening next door to you. Contact me if you’d like to chat or I can email you more info by request at kathysetzer@yahoo.com

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