AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin City Council on Thursday evening approved a motion for final rules for short-term home rentals. The motion pass Council on a 5-2 vote.
In June, the council passed preliminary rules allowing both "owner-occupied home rentals" and "commercial short term home rentals".
Supporters say it gives homeowners a chance to make money from tourists.
Opponents said approving the ordinance would be a direct threat to schools, neighborhoods and affordability.
On Thursday, several demonstrators outside City Hall held signs denouncing the whole concept of home rentals. One placard read "Neighbors Not Strangers".
Some in the movement against home rentals are comparing this fight to the bitter struggles over development Austinites witnessed in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
"Real estate investors are coming into neighborhoods buying houses and operating them like hotels. This is a place that no one lives. This is a place that's rented out to an endless parade of strangers on a night-by-night basis," said Tom Nuckols, spokesman for the Barton Hills Neighborhood Association in South Austin.
Supporters of the ordinance, including Austin-based vacation rental website Home Away, say the tax revenue generated will help the city. Cash strapped Austin homeowners would have an opportunity to make money by renting their property for short periods of time.
The Austin Board of Realtors is suggesting the creation of a city administered registration process for the short term rentals. Then, if there are nuisance or safety concerns with tourists staying in Austin neighbors, city officials would have a process in place to deal with the homeowner.
A proposed "small fee" would pay for the program - and could not be used to generate new tax revenue for the city.
"There's the rights of the owners who want to operate their short-term rental or maybe an investor who would like to turn their long-term rental into a short term rental, but then we also see there are innate rights for the neighbors that live next door to them," said Emily Chenevert of the Austin Board of Realtors.
"We think we have to strike a careful balance in any regulation that would go to protecting the cohesiveness of the neighborhood."
However, opponents insist the entire home rental concept is fundamentally flawed and is a direct threat to neighborhood schools in Central Austin.
"When these hotels are opened, that's one less house where a family with school children can live in," said Nuckols. "I personally had the Austin Independent School District propose to close my son's school because not enough families with children live in our neighborhood."
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