Lakeway approval of 5 short-term rental permits sparks homeowner debate

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Although Lakeway City Council unanimously approved special-use permits for short-term rentals, or STRs, at five local homes Aug. 21, residents voiced their opinions about a Jan. 13, 2016, ordinance setting out requirements for STR permits.

The STR permits approved by council members include 410A Sailmaster, 206 Lido St., 122 Acapulco Drive, 103 Triton Court and 817 Mariner.

Eleven-year resident Jim Shanahan said he opposes having STRs within the city, and that they have decreased property values in the area.

“To bring that commercialism [of STRs]right next door to residents is not a prudent, advisable thing,” he said. “When you rent your house out, it is no longer your residence; it is a commercial property. We are zoned R-1 [for residential use].”

Lakeway Mayor Joe Bain said the city has tried to create “very strict” regulations governing STRs, limiting the number of STRs to 25. He said the city has 23 out of 6,000 homes currently registered as STRs.

Resident John Caporal said the effect of having STRs in the city is to drive out long-term rentals.

“What we’ve tried to do is limit [STRs] so that we can make rules we can enforce on them,” Bain said.

If STRs meet the requirements of the city’s ordinance, they must be approved, City Manager Steve Jones said.

An STR permit is good for one year, with the holder given the opportunity to apply for a two-year permit after its expiration. STR occupancy is limited to two adults per bedroom.

Since the new ordinance was put in effect, Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford said most calls to his department related to an STR are for suspicious vehicles, noise from the home and an alarm sounding.

Bain said the city had “significant [STR violation] reports in 2016 on a couple of locations.”

“It seems like [the number of those reports]has significantly decreased,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we were watching [the STRs]and not infringing on neighbors’ quality of life.”

Ray Miller, director of Lakeway Building and Development Services, said the council approval is “just the first step to authorize the [STR] permit.”

“Applicants still will have to go through filing their hotel occupancy tax, getting their short-term rental insurance as well as go through a safety compliance inspection before we will issue the permit,” he said. “Plus, pay the fee for the yearly permit.”

Criteria for issuing Short-Term Rental permits in Lakeway

According to Ray Miller, director of Lakeway Building and Development Services, the city staff considers the following criteria to issue a short-term rental, or STR, permit:

• Does the property qualify for a permit?

• Is the STR use compatible with surrounding neighbors and residential uses?

• Will STR use adversely affect adjacent property values?

• Will the STR create a nuisance?

• Will the STR use cause congestion or parking hazards?

• Will STR use comply with other regulations?

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