A lengthy late-night discussion Nov. 12 about temporarily banning certain short-term vacation rentals resulted in a moratorium that will last through March 2017.

New short-term rental regulations receive support from City CouncilNo new licenses for Type 2 short-term rentals, or STRs, that are not owner-occupied—meaning the owner rents an entire dwelling that he or she does not live in—will be issued after Nov. 23, the soonest the new city law can go into place. A public hearing will be held on or before March 1, 2017, to review what effect the moratorium had on Austin neighborhoods that may be suffering from nuisances caused by surrounding vacation rentals.

Twenty-three Austin residents stayed late into the evening to voice mostly support for the moratorium, which was accelerated by council in an attempt to limit the number of last-second Type 2 STR applicants. Most speakers were residents personally affected by nearby Type 2 STRs, and the rest were owners of the non-owner occupied vacation rentals. While supportive of the measure, Type 2 STR owners were quick to mention the temporarily ban does not kill existing vacation rentals that may be problematic for some neighborhoods.

Language passed by council assures no Type 2 STR applications submitted after Nov. 12 will be considered for approval. There are currently about 20 Type 2 STR applications under review, according to Marcus Elliott, enforcement division manager of the Austin Code Department.

"I think the community has had a lot of warning that there were changes coming to short-term rentals," Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said. "That's the nature of living in a municipality—things get adopted."

But District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who casted the lone vote against the moratorium, said the temporary ban passed by council differs from the group's original intent.

"I think this is the wrong approach to take. We all started out with the same goal of trying to increase enforcement and get rid of the bad actors ... while respecting the rights of responsible Type 2 [STR] owners," she said. "I'm disappointed we got to this place."

A separate public hearing on broader short-term rental regulation changes will occur at 4 p.m. Dec. 10.


Austin City Council will consider implementing a year-long ban on some short-term rental licenses during its Nov. 12 meeting.

There are three types of short-term rentals in Austin, many of which are typically listed on websites such as Austin-based HomeAway or AirBnB, which connect guests with property owners for travel stays. Type 2 short-term rentals, or STRs, allow guests to rent an entire dwelling that is not regularly occupied by its owner or a dwelling that is on the same property as an owner-occupied dwelling. On Sept. 17, council members agreed to initiate a moratorium of all new Type 2 STR licenses for a year while enforcement changes are considered.

HomeAway and AirBnB representatives have opposed many of the changes initiated and said the new regulations will negatively affect property owners who currently comply with city code. A review of 311 and 911 calls in reference to STRs showed there are 12 bad actors in Austin, said Matt Curtis, director of government relations for HomeAway.

“The question [we] keep asking is, ‘Why can’t we simply enforce regulations against those 12 homes instead of recreating the entire policy,’” Curtis said.

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo initiated council discussion of STR regulations in June and said her intent was not to disrupt current regulations or properties in compliance but to give Austin Code Department officers better tools to enforce current code.

The resolution underwent several revisions through amendments and stakeholder input during the past few months. Council could potentially make good on its initial effort to ban Type 2 STRs by implementing the moratorium during the Nov. 12 meeting.

However, some council members voiced concern during the Nov. 10 work session that current ordinance language would only place a moratorium on Type 2 licenses in residential areas, which was not the intent. Council members have previously agreed to begin phasing out Type 2 STRs from residential areas in the future.

Curtis said he does not understand why Type 2 STRs are being singled out and why STR opponents seem to only target that type instead of Type 1 and Type 3.

"It is the act of charging a tenant for a stay is what's called a rent, so it's no different than the typical residential activity of someone who is renting a property," Curtis said. "The peculiar aspect is somehow or another, the folks who are engaging in that discussion seem to only say it is a business use if it is a Type 2 but ... if it's a Type 1 or a Type 3, it's not a business use. I think that shows the flaw in their thinking."

The Planning Commission recently voted in favor of the moratorium.

UPDATED 11/13/15 11:15 a.m. CST 

 Other Nov. 12 council highlights:

  • Consider adopting Austin Convention Center's long-range master plan. Council delayed approval of the master plan in favor of an amendment from Mayor Steve Adler calling on a review of the convention industry, a city facility needs assessment and a deeper review of whether hotel occupancy taxes can cover the cost of the $405 million proposed expansion. 

  • Consider a resolution with relocation requirements for tenants who are displaced because of development. Council approved the resolution, with Council Member Don Zimmerman as the only "no" vote. The ordinance, once drafted, will be heard by the Housing and Community Development committee. 

  • Consider changes to parkland dedication fees for developers. Proposed changes passed on the first of three readings. The item will return Nov. 17 for second reading.

  • Consider zoning changes to allow development of multifamily complex One Two East. This item was postponed until the Dec. 10 meeting.