Why more than 400 Fredericksburg short-term rental owners are opposing city ordinance changes

Hill Country

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fredericksburg is dealing with a large number of short-term rental properties, and the city is looking to make some changes to how it manages them.

Right now, the city has 850 active and pending short-term rentals (STRs) and city council members are considering more oversight for them, and more than 400 STR owners are voicing concern.

Randy Briley is one of them — he owns three STR properties, one a historic one called the Abigail Home that was built in 1880.

“We’ve had one couple get married here, we’ve had three engagements and birth announcements,” he said, standing in the main room.

This map of the City of Fredericksburg indicates active, pending and closed short-term rentals. (KXAN Photo/Tahera Rahman)

Briley is also the president of the Fredericksburg Texas Short-Term Rental Alliance — a group of more than 400 individuals and families.

They’re worried that this main source of income could be in jeopardy if the city passes new restrictions, including how many units are allowed and where.

“We want to respect and protect our neighborhoods as much as everyone else does,” Briley says. “We live here. I reside here, my daughter goes to Fredericksburg High School … it’s important that we be able to provide a living for our family. “

The city says the industry is growing, and they want to stay ahead of potential challenges.

“What we’re seeing on some of these homes, especially some of the larger homes, they’re able to sleep 12 to 14 to 16 people, but the current code only requires one parking space,” says Jason Lutz, Fredericksburg development services director.

Lutz says including closed STRs that need permit renewals, STRs make up about 12% of the city’s total housing stock. He says in the historic district, that jumps to about 30%.

Lutz says they saw a spike in new short-term rentals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the volume of calls for information lead city leaders to reconsider their ordinance.

“We just wanted to look at it and give it a fresh set of eyes, and make sure that it’s still doing what we wanted it to do,” he said.

Lutz says there have already been opportunities for public input, and more will occur before any ordinance changes are passed.

“We’re not going to make everybody happy, but our goal is always to balance the needs of the short-term rental property, as well as their neighboring properties,” he said.

Briley is hoping for an economic impact study. Although current STR owners would be grandfathered in, he says they’re fighting for future owners and the local economy.

“We impact electricians, plumbers, painters, service people, laundry … there’s a whole, there’s a whole ripple effect in our economy that’s supported by STRs,” he said.

According to the city’s timeline, a draft ordinance is scheduled to be posted for the public in December.

Lutz says the city is aiming for a final council reading in February and, if passed, the new ordinance wouldn’t go into effect for 30 days or more.

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