West Lake Hills recognized for public safety, scenic efforts
West Lake Hills Mayor Dave Claunch (center, front) and his staff pose with the city’s 2015 Municipal Excellence Award for Public Safety on Sept. 25.[/caption]
The city West Lake Hills received the 2015 Municipal Excellence Award from the Texas Municipal League on Sept. 25.
The award—in the category of Public Safety for cities less than 25,000 in population—was given to the city for its wildfire detection system and fire safety efforts. West Lake Hills implemented four detectors that use infrared sensors to detect wildfires and alert a dispatcher to notify first responders.
“It is a privilege and an honor to be recognized by TML for the creative thinking and hard work of our elected officials and staff,” Mayor Dave Claunch said. West Lake Hills is a member of Texas Municpal League, a voluntary association that serves the needs and interests of Texas cities.
West Lake Hills Mayor Dave Claunch (holding plaque) accepts the city’s Recognized Scenic City certification Sept. 24.[/caption]
Scenic Cities certification: West Lake Hills earned a Recognized Scenic City certification Sept. 24. The five-year certification is part of Scenic Texas, a statewide nonprofit program to preserve and enhance the visual character of Texas. The organization has granted the award to only 20 Texas cities from 2015 to 2020.
The program evaluates a city’s standards for the development of roads and public spaces with criteria including a city’s sign code enforcement, new billboard ban and landscaping/tree-planting program. The Scenic Texas judges recognized West Lake Hills’ tree protection measures, design requirements for signs and the city’s prohibition on digital signs.
“I am extremely proud of this award as it recognizes the hard work of many elected officials, other volunteers and staff that have served in West Lake Hills—people whose efforts have made West Lake Hills such an incredible place to live,” Claunch said.
The city is re-evaluating its short-term rental ordinance that has been in place since 2011, with a final public hearing set for the Nov. 16 Lakeway City Council meeting.
The city has 48 licensed short-term rental homes, City Manager Steve Jones said at the Oct. 19 meeting. However, there are some short term rentals operating in the city without a license, he said.
The issue was prompted by a situation in which activity at a short term rental on Vanguard Street resulted in the arrest or citing of more than 59 people attending a party at the home, Mayor Joe Bain said. The homeowner’s license was revoked after more than 70 people spilled out into the neighborhood, and police observed illegal activities, he said. Lakeway’s Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear an appeal of the home’s license revocation at its Nov. 18 meeting.
“In the time since the existing regulations were adopted, the short-term rental industry has escalated,” Jones said. “Short-term rentals have become increasingly commercial in nature and can have an undesirable impact on residential neighborhoods and quality of life.”
He said a proposed special use permit requirement creates an opportunity to notify adjacent homeowners that a nearby property will be used as a short-term rental. The city’s current ordinance provides for a permit to be valid for three years and does not require notice to adjacent homeowners of the permit request or a hearing regarding its issuance, Jones said.
The changes proposed to the short-term rental ordinance would require an initial permit be renewed annually, with notice to adjacent homeowners and an opportunity to speak on the matter, he said. Additional restrictions on the number of short term rentals permitted within an area are proposed.
“We should follow Rollingwood’s example and outlaw [short-term rentals] completely,” resident Diane Manchester said.
However, some short-term rental owners said they do not agree with limiting the number of rentals as the area is a resort community.
Resident and investor Tim White said he moved to the neighborhood four years ago after getting a feel for the community as a short-term renter.
“We moved here for the resort component of Lakeway,” he said. “I think short-term rentals add a lot to the resort community.”