Officials in San Antonio will spend the summer reviewing potential revisions to the city’s short-term rental ordinance to better establish regulations for local operations.

As San Antonio officials seek to tweak their rules, Hollywood Park officials are facing a lawsuit filed by three local short-term rental owners in December, one month after City Council approved a ban.

While advocates said they are acting lawfully, leaders in both communities said some residents have concerns about safety, permitting and more.

Current situation

The San Antonio Short-Term Rentals Task Force debuted Dec. 6 and is charged with recommending updates to the city’s five-year-old ordinance.

San Antonio has two types of short-term rentals. Type 1 is a property occupied by the owner/operator, and Type 2 is a property that is not. The city requires a $100, three-year permit and monthly hotel occupancy tax payments.

Among other things, the task force aims to strengthen enforcement requirements, especially on the estimated 1,200-1,500 operators who are delinquent on fees and taxes.

Officials and advocates said San Antonio’s task force and Hollywood Park’s ban are among efforts to answer parking, noise and other concerns.

Task force member Shelley Galbreaith, who is also the Short Term Rental Association of San Antonio chair, said the association was formed to raise awareness of noncompliance issues and other topics.

“We formed our association in order to bring noncompliance with the STR ordinance to the attention of the city,” Galbreaith said. “Together with the Tier One Neighborhood Coalition, we approached the city’s Development Services Department and City Council to request help in tightening the ordinance to raise compliance rates and hotel occupancy tax collections.”

District 9 council member John Courage voiced concern on another task force issue—permitting corporate-owned rentals and individuals who run their home like a business in a residential neighborhood.

“I have difficulty understanding how that benefits the community,” Courage said.

Zooming in

The ability to run one’s home as a short-term rental is central to a lawsuit Hollywood Park property owners Bonnie Browning, Scott Troen and Abby Argo filed in opposition to the city government’s ban. A federal court granted the trio a preliminary injunction in December.

Argo and Browning argued they invested heavily to make their Hollywood Park homes accommodating to short-term renters.

Police Chief Shad Pritchard said none of the estimated six short-term rental properties in the town were cited for nuisance ordinance violations before Hollywood Park’s council adopted a ban.

However, some residents at November’s council meeting complained about some local short-term rentals.

“It takes away from the community feel here,” resident Frank Holzmann said at the council meeting.

The cost

Task force member Colleen Waguespack asked San Antonio officials to focus on financial responsibility of owners/operators who do not live on-site.

“[There are] owner/operators who simply book ... to maximize income,” Waguespack said.

The city of San Antonio can fine a short-term rental property owner between $200 to $500 or even have their permit revoked because of unaddressed claims of ordinance violations.

Upon adopting their ban, Hollywood Park council members had agreed to give property owners six months to get used to the ban. Beginning May 14, the town may fine a property owner up to $2,000 for noncompliance with the ban.

Argo and Browning said they are defending their property rights.

“We want to be able to do what we want with our property as long as it's not hurting anyone else,” Argo said.

Stay tuned

San Antonio’s task force will meet at various times through April at 1901 S. Alamo St., with public meetings on recommended revisions to the city’s short-term rental ordinance set for June.

Representatives for the short-term rental company Airbnb said they have worked with San Antonio city staff to educate hosts about the city’s rules, and to promote compliance via workshops and email campaigns to hosts.

Company representatives pledged to keep working with San Antonio officials toward addressing delinquent permitting and tax collection issues, adding that it is important to Airbnb’s leaders to continue providing STR options locally and contributing to San Antonio’s economy.

Council is due to approve changes in September.

Hollywood Park officials said they do not know when the next court action regarding the lawsuit will take place.

Hollywood Park City Attorney Ryan Henry said he feels the city’s ban will be upheld.

“We’ve done everything under the ordinance correctly,” he said.