College Station Council Pushes Envelope on Regulation of Short-Term Rentals

6,036 Views | 66 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by Gigem314
UmustBKidding
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The point is not about not charging a friend. The proponents all claim this is not about money. But the only difference between me allowing group of friends to house sit or a AirBNB customer to house sit is the money.
And where do you find in the Texas statutes any limits on anything per room. Hotels, private homes, apartments in many cases have more than two persons per room. This new learning is amazing, tell me again how we know the earth is Bananna shaped.
Gigem314
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UmustBKidding said:

But this proposed regulation along with the existing ones are all about the MONEY. I can invite my sons scout troop or robot club to spend the weekend at my house, and its not prohibited that I can find. But If I charged them anything it is. If my friend that has kids on 7on7 football want to use my house for a week for the state tournament and I say he can if he finds me a place to stay, should be ok. But if I say give me the cash so I can rent a place to stay, now illegal.
I believe the regulations should be about the bad behavior not about the money or even the relationships. Loud late night parties, already regulated. Parking cars on the grass or wrong way on the street, already regulated. If there is behavior that is a problem enumerate it and enforce. I realize having unrelated people together may provide opportunity for undesired behavior but what if a dozen monks want to rent my garage apartment, should the pay the penalty for others potentially bad behavior.
Interesting you bring this up.

During one of those tournament weekends last year, the 'hotel' on our street had a group of kids stay there for a few days and there was damage to that property. We came home one night and saw the police there down the street. Apparently one of the guests had run into the brick mailbox hard enough to completely shatter it. I don't know if it was alcohol related, being reckless, or just a really bad parking job. There were also some noise issues that weekend. Needless to say...it was one of those things where it's hard not to notice that something was off.

But in this case, there was no 'resident' having someone stay in their personal home or letting a friend stay there as a rare favor. This was a full-time hotel. Just another week and another new set of guests. What do they care? Personally, I think it's inconsiderate to the rest of the homeowners in that area. You don't know who will be there week in or week out. What if the damage the next time is to your property or someone else around it?

And in many cases, people didn't know this practice was thing when they moved in. And how would they even know a home around them was doing that? It's not like moving in down the street from a hotel or strip center.

Again, I just think there is a massive gray area here that seems to get ignored. And maybe it's not as common at the moment, but I think it will only become more of an issue if the status quo continues and human nature continues to push the envelope on something that isn't well defined.
taxpreparer
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AG
techno-ag said:

Gigem314 said:

techno-ag said:

Just to be clear, I'm not indicating it's not happening so I'm not in your group of "some people."

Having said that, I don't see the evidence for it being a widespread rampant problem. Full disclosure, I have used one of my rental properties as a short term rental when it went vacant for a while. It never rented on a weekend that was not a game or graduation. That includes summer weekends with the firemen here and other activities. Again, I just do not see a widespread rampant abuse of short term rentals.
That's fine, and I would expect a response like that from someone that's going to look out for their personal business first. However, I do tend to find others in your category more abrasive and dismissive of the problems. It's not as black-and-white as some want to portray it.

There's a massive gray area here and I think it leaves things open for people to push the envelope. And while it may not be rampant (I never claimed it was to begin with)...the problem isn't going away with the status quo. It will only get worse. This wasn't even on the radar of most communities a few years ago, and now look at where it is.

I'm not even saying there's an ideal solution. There may not be. But unintended consequences are probably going to come from this in one form or another.
Agreed with the bold.
And they will necessitate more regulation, which creates more untended consequences, That will necessitate more regulation, etc, until all private property rights have given way to "the good of the community."

I am sorry, but when you bought your property, it came with existing prohibitions; whether they be zoning, overlays, or HOA covenants; you new what you were getting. For someone to come along later and add more restrictions they had not already considered, is to take property rights from you. It is wrong.

I am currently trying to sell a house in an older neighborhood. It would be a great location for a rental investment (if the market was not overbuilt) but a few years ago, my neighbors got together (no HOA) and petitioned for a "two unrelated overlay. This has eliminated several potential buyers.
***It's your money, not theIRS! (At least for a little while longer.)
UmustBKidding
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But AirBNB guest are not the only ones that run over mailboxes. Mine was demolished by a "neighbor" not a guest and if I did not have cameras I would not have known. When confronted, they totally denied it. Asked if they wanted to view the video. Stories changed.
I am not saying there are not bad actors that use AirBNB, but I have had to deal with plenty of rowdy people locally that after they were run out of businesses that drove back or Uber'ed to their hotel or AgShack. I have no problem with fining both the "guest" and the owner for police responses. Also most STR platforms have facilities to mark bad actors and not even show properties to people with history of issues. But if the issues are not communicated to the person offering the location they have no way to grade their behavior.
I am not necessary for unfettered STR allowances, but if these problems were as bad as some people say places that don't regulate like Bryan would be burned to the ground daily.


Stupe
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S
Stupe said:

Quote:

Meanwhile it takes away our individual property rights to rent our houses a couple of weekends a year.
How does this take that away?

Be specific.
Three days since I posted that.

Still no reply about how individual property right are being taken away.
Gigem314
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AG
UmustBKidding said:

But AirBNB guest are not the only ones that run over mailboxes. Mine was demolished by a "neighbor" not a guest and if I did not have cameras I would not have known. When confronted, they totally denied it. Asked if they wanted to view the video. Stories changed.
I am not saying there are not bad actors that use AirBNB, but I have had to deal with plenty of rowdy people locally that after they were run out of businesses that drove back or Uber'ed to their hotel or AgShack. I have no problem with fining both the "guest" and the owner for police responses. Also most STR platforms have facilities to mark bad actors and not even show properties to people with history of issues. But if the issues are not communicated to the person offering the location they have no way to grade their behavior.
I am not necessary for unfettered STR allowances, but if these problems were as bad as some people say places that don't regulate like Bryan would be burned to the ground daily.
You're completely missing my point. It's not about the mailbox.

It's the uncertainty that comes with living next to a full-time hotel with no actual resident.

When you have people that actually live where they reside, whether a renter with a contract or an owner, it is much easier to confront and have some accountability. When there isn't, you're at the mercy of others. How much incentive is there for people to be as considerate of those around them when they're either coming in for one weekend or they own the residence but don't even live there? Who cares if they have a "platform" to mark bad actors when they've already come through...and there will be another to take their place the next time?

You can't minimize these problems away.
Brian Alg
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I am not sure if I understand.

You are asking how taking away peoples' right to do what they want with their property is taking away their property rights? Am I missing something, or are you asking for someone to prove a tautology?
Brian Alg

Brazos Valley Coalition for Responsible Government
Stupe
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S
You're missing something.

I asked a very simple question, but I'll rephrase it to be more specific:

How is the city taking away his right to use his home, or an investment home, as a short term rental.
Brian Alg
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bcschamp365 was complaining about what the article indicates is coming in the near future.

Are you saying that you don't see how the proposals in the article would take away property rights from people?

Or were you posting a rhetorical question to highlight that the ordinance people are talking about has not been drafted and passed yet?
Brian Alg

Brazos Valley Coalition for Responsible Government
new straw
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I'm sorry. Looks like they changed it. It is now up to three adults per bedroom. I used to lease apartments, so, this is where my knowledge of this comes from. Glad to be of service to help with your new knowledge.
Stupe
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S
I'm saying that he made a statement that his rights could be taken away based on what is written in that article.

I'm asking him to give a specific example of how that would happen using the information in the article that he based his statement on.

Brian Alg
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I can't speak for bcschamp365, but the article they linked to lays out some of what Crompton, Maloney, Nichols, and Mooney want to see in the ordinance that would take away the rights of property owners. Did you get a chance to look at it?
https://www.theeagle.com/news/local/college-station-begins-drafting-of-short-term-rentals-ordinance/article_997db048-3f38-11ea-ae0c-5b8d9bebe324.html

Or are you asking how ordinances are made?
Brian Alg

Brazos Valley Coalition for Responsible Government
Stupe
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S
So basically you are just wanting to get into a circular argument, which is fine. I'm just not going to do it on this thread.

You can proceed, but you will be having a circular on your own.
Brian Alg
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Not sure what you think is circular about it. The article was pretty straightforward.

They did not go into the details of the restrictions Crompton has in mind. But he makes it clear that his plan is restricting STRs in every way he can.
Quote:

While councilman John Crompton said he is concerned with collecting HOT funds, he added that he is more interested in the impact on the neighborhoods and investigating "protective measures" for them as the ordinance is drafted.

"My problem is that I don't know what level of protection we've got now compared to the capacity ... or how far we are from pushing the boundaries," Crompton said. "From my perspective, I want to push the boundaries as far as we can."

Two paragraphs later the article goes into the specific restrictions that Maloney, Mooney, and Nichols want to put in place. Maloney also indicates that he wants harsh fines for violating the restrictions.

Quote:

Councilman Dennis Maloney stressed his desire to implement fines to enforce the upcoming rules.

"If the punishment of violating the law is harsh enough, people will pay attention and pay, but if it's not, it's cheaper to pay the fine than comply," Maloney said. "Let's make sure that the cost of working underground is prohibitive."

Maloney also suggested requirements such as parking restrictions and a brochure with local emergency contacts and other safety information. Councilman John Nichols expressed similar interests in a brochure with contact information provided to people who stay in short-term rentals, as well as letting them know that part of their bill as a visitor is going toward hotel occupancy taxes.

Council members differed on their opinions of how exactly registration should be implemented. Mayor Karl Mooney said he would like to see a first-time registration fee and then a lower annual renewal fee that could include inspections, so the renewal fee would essentially cover the cost of the inspections.
These are direct quotes from the article.
https://www.theeagle.com/news/local/college-station-begins-drafting-of-short-term-rentals-ordinance/article_997db048-3f38-11ea-ae0c-5b8d9bebe324.html

These restrictions on STRs, explicitly advocated by the council members, would have the force of law. Violations of the proposed restrictions are to result in fines high enough to discourage that kind of thing. These restrictions on what people can do with their property, by definition, are restrictions on property rights.

One can argue these restrictions are not overly burdensome or that they are worth enacting for any number of reasons. But they are still restrictions on property rights even if you think they are fair and reasonable.
Brian Alg

Brazos Valley Coalition for Responsible Government
Aggie1205
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AG
It should be requested that Maloney not use these new funds to name buildings after people stealing tax payer money this time............
TxFig
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AggieBaseball06 said:




I call BS. I would estimate the percentage of people are in the short term rental game who want to rent our their place "a couple" of weekends/year is 1% or less. Even if you "only" did it for the big weekends, that's 7 home games, 3 graduations, parent's weekend, and 2 other ring days. That's 13/52 weekends or 25%. Asking you to pay taxes on a rental that is booked 25% of the weekends of the year is not a ridiculous proposition.

Call it whatever you like.

My wife & I Air-BnB our place (thank GOD outside of the communist College Station reach). We get 5-6 rentals per year. Nothing to live on, but it's a nice chunk of change for unexpected money.


What's more - when we travel, we pretty much ONLY stay at AirBnB or VRBO places now. They are nicer, and cheaper, than a motel.



As for the communistas in College Station - I joined the military to shoot socialists. I sure as hell am not going to vote for any of them.
--
Chris Barnes
Retired A&M IT geek - now beekeeper
http://www.cornerstonehoneybees.com/
Drilltime
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The starting point for the Short Term Rental discussion is not that we need a way to collect taxes. It's that they are currently ILLEGAL. Much of the confusion around these revolves around the misunderstanding of their legal status. If you are operating a property that rents for less than 30 days and you are not residing on the property yourself, you are operating in violation of city ordinances.

Whether you are for or opposed, it's important you understand the conversation that's actually going on so you can argue your case with the city more effectively. Everyone needs to bring a little to the table. Unfortunately The Eagle article didn't provide some important context. What the city is considering is to actually make them legal for the first time. It is not to take away any right you currently have as a property owner. Most of us Texans will agree that we have some pretty strong rights when we buy property, but those same people should then agree that if a right is specifically denied a property, you don't have it. Most conservatives support the constitution and rule of law more than our right to do anything we want, particularly in a zoned neighborhood. So in this case you can't really ride the property-rights horse too far.

Because it is not currently legal, what is actually being discussed is, 1) should the city allow it at all, and 2) if the city does allow it, how can we limit the intensity of use (regulate) so it is "compatible" with families and children in the same neighborhood.

Our residential zoning is called General Suburban (GS) and it allows a diverse mix of uses. But its fundamental principle is that it will protect its owners from "incompatible uses". The city determined years ago that an owner-occupied B&B was compatible, but even then we recognized it was a commercial business serving the public and imposed restrictions and safety regulations. So if you have purchased a General Suburban property you've bought the right to an owner-occupied B&S.

During the same time, the city decided that if the owner wasn't residing on the property, it would not end up being "compatible" with a residential neighborhood. It is a pure commercial hotel. So that's already the ordinance, and it's a good one. What's happened is that AirBnB caught them by surprise. They had little impact to start with and they were actually only used a few days a year. So the city didn't enforce the existing prohibition, and this confused investors as to the legality. The loss of taxes was definitely the motivation to do something about it (along with the hotel lobby), but the core issue is still the illegality. To collect taxes they have to specifically make them legal. And to make commercial hotels in residential neighborhoods legal they have to regulate them. Have too!

What's making this more complicated is that court decisions are sending mixed signals on what a city can or can't do to regulate the intensity of use (number of occupants, cars on the street, additional number of party guests allowed, etc.). Critical court decisions are still in the works. When city leaders say they want to "push the boundaries" they are actually talking to our city attorney. Leaders are telling her they are willing to take the risk and if an ordinance will need to be changed later due to an ongoing court case we can easily to it. They want her to do as much as possible to protect our families and children from an intensity of use that is incompatible (not a ban). They are also saying they are willing to go to court if ordinances are challenged in College Station itself on issues that are still fuzzy.

In the mean time the deed restricted HOAs are moving quickly to establish total bans. This is one of the issues that's still in the courts. HOA's asking for total bans will easily get the required voter approval. The result is that if the city does not pursue as much as they can it will end up in a political bind. The city will be arguing that it cannot do things the HOAs are all actually doing. To my knowledge no council member has suggested a ban and they are powerfully motivated by the tax income to allow them. The extreme difference will not go down well if HOAs have a total ban and the city is saying it can't regulate at all. This is also a rare case were the HOA and non-HOA neighborhoods are very aligned. If the city fights this battle, the are fighting it for all of the HOAs who may not actually have the resources to defend themselves. The city will not defend regulation that exceeds its own (i.e., total ban), but it will defend any level of restriction it chooses to apply uniformly across the city.

The HOAs are moving fast, but the unprotected neighborhoods will have to depend on city ordinances. My own preference is to allow STRs in any subdivision where the property is the "legal homestead" of the owner. This lets anyone rent out for game days or a little cash to help pay their ridiculous property taxes. That's the situation most of you are imagining and I agree. By only allowing Homestead owners to rent their residence, we will also address the code enforcement problem. Owners will place their own restrictions to seek deposits or fees from renters how do damage or make their neighbors mad.

I do not believe we should allow purely commercial rentals in any subdivision. Currently STRs are being used for rotating work crews without background checks in neighborhoods with children, frat reunions that house 16 people and serve as party central for the entire organization, and other intense uses. This is what the new investor-driven STRs are intended for. Don't kid yourself, the market will maximize profit. It cannot possibly be argued that these are compatible with families and children.

Keep in mind, these are currently illegal by city ordinance. The conversation is not about how much of your rights the city will take away, it's about how much right the city will give you. It's about how much of your neighbor's right to be protected from incompatible uses in a GS zone will be taken away from them?
cslifer
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Throughout this thread you have mentioned "work crews without background checks" and "protecting children" several times. Those are obviously important issues to you. Can you give us any specific documented incidents in College Station where a "rotating work crew without a background check" harmed a child while staying in a short term rental?
EcoZapp.Makes.Crisp.Air
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Sponsor
Everyone is missing the point - How can our cities invest into things like $100m Park & Driving range combos and hope to be profitable if they can't recoup the money from Hotel Taxes and commence ?



I'm not sure we can have both Parks AND the ability for AirBnbs to operate freely, there is an accountant somewhere with the Math that probably can explain.


cslifer
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What does the Bryan park have to do with a CS issue about rentals?
JP76
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cslifer said:

What does the Bryan park have to do with a CS issue about rentals?



That's like asking what does a pest control technician know about hvac work ?
Drilltime
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I'm guessing you're being sarcastic about the $ 100M. If not, as staff explained it to City Council, the STR agencies (i.e. AirBnB) are already routinely collecting the tax for states and cities. We would just need to make them legal then write a contract with the major agencies to collect. An owner could market on their own and not report the income, but they would be subject to cri final tax evasion for the state's portion, and not just a fine for violating a city ordinance.


Because of the large number of people who may be in an STR, I doubt the cost/person will be as much as if they stayed in separate hotel rooms. So the city may get less tax, but at least they will pay the same tax rate.
bcschamp365
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College Station is NOT a short-term rental market.

We have no real demand outside 10 weekends a year in the fall. There is very little inventory because there is very little demand outside these weekends. Government needs to stay out of this. Period. There are more important challenges.

Don't California my Texas and Don't Austin my College Station. Let Freedom Reign.

aggie59
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AG
If the hotels would quit doubling their rates(screwing the people with their bloated rates and hotel /motel occupancy tax) the problem of people renting their properties on the high demand weekends would diminish because the profit motive would be gone. So who are we blaming and punishing here under the guise of being moral tax paying citizens who have never tried to dodge paying all our taxes with any dodge we could conceive.
Drilltime
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It's not about letting freedom reign. The city is not working on taking a right, but giving you one that didn't come with your land. STRs are currently illegal and always have been.

What they are discusing is how to limit the damage your STR will do to your neighbors. They are the ones who are having a right diminished. When the bought their homes thay were promised that STRs would not be allowed. They paid good money for their right. The STR operators just decided to start breaking the law

Regardless,we are where we are and at this point nobody in the city is talking about maintaining the ban. The question is how to make so that rest of the residential neighborhood can live with it. We all accept that hotels in commercial districts must have some regulations. It's a little bizarre that anyone would argue that hotels in single family neighborhoods with no onsite management should know no bounds.
Nosh
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The hotel tax goes to A&M to cover a portion of the Kyle Field renovation. I believe the agreement was at least for 10 years.
Charli
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From Drilltime:

"My own preference is to allow STRs in any subdivision where the property is the "legal homestead" of the owner. This lets anyone rent out for game days or a little cash to help pay their ridiculous property taxes. That's the situation most of you are imagining and I agree. By only allowing Homestead owners to rent their residence, we will also address the code enforcement problem. Owners will place their own restrictions to seek deposits or fees from renters how do damage or make their neighbors mad."


This proposal makes the most sense.


Stayed with a delightful couple in another state under these legal conditions - had our own room and bathroom upstairs. Breakfast was served daily. It was more of a BandB experience. And yes, it did supplement their income.
hopeandrealchange
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bcschamp365 said:

College Station is NOT a short-term rental market.

We have no real demand outside 10 weekends a year in the fall. There is very little inventory because there is very little demand outside these weekends. Government needs to stay out of this. Period. There are more important challenges.

Don't California my Texas and Don't Austin my College Station. Let Freedom Reign.




Hear Hear.
aggie59
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AG
Nosh,They got the state legislature to allow them to raise the tax to cover that contribution, if its for a limited duration do you think they will drop the additional tax or just keep on swallowing it like all temporary taxes are.
Drilltime
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The state treats STRs as hotels and collects taxes whether the city does or not. The STR agencies like AirBnB already charge it and send it to the state. Its only College Station that has not been getting taxes. How do you collect a tax from a commercial business if your laws say it's illegal. The "regulation" people say they are concerned with is actually the vehicle used to make them legal for the first time, and to enable the city to tax them.

The city already allows traditional Bed & Breakfasts where the owner is present so that president is established By definition, an STR is a commercial rental where the owner is not present. Just like the traditional BnBs, STRs will be taxed by both the state and city regardless of the duration of the rental. It will also true if it's their homestead tested or an investor property.
Brian Alg
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Drilltime said:

Its only College Station that has not been getting taxes. How do you collect a tax from a commercial business if your laws say it's illegal. The "regulation" people say they are concerned with is actually the vehicle used to make them legal for the first time, and to enable the city to tax them.



Do you have a source? The city staff told us that they do collect taxes from AirBnB and the other major platforms during the meeting they had a while back.
Brian Alg

Brazos Valley Coalition for Responsible Government
Gigem314
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AG
Drilltime said:

Our residential zoning is called General Suburban (GS) and it allows a diverse mix of uses. But its fundamental principle is that it will protect its owners from "incompatible uses". The city determined years ago that an owner-occupied B&B was compatible, but even then we recognized it was a commercial business serving the public and imposed restrictions and safety regulations. So if you have purchased a General Suburban property you've bought the right to an owner-occupied B&S.

During the same time, the city decided that if the owner wasn't residing on the property, it would not end up being "compatible" with a residential neighborhood. It is a pure commercial hotel. So that's already the ordinance, and it's a good one. What's happened is that AirBnB caught them by surprise. They had little impact to start with and they were actually only used a few days a year. So the city didn't enforce the existing prohibition, and this confused investors as to the legality. The loss of taxes was definitely the motivation to do something about it (along with the hotel lobby), but the core issue is still the illegality. To collect taxes they have to specifically make them legal. And to make commercial hotels in residential neighborhoods legal they have to regulate them. Have too!
So if I'm hearing you right, STR of a property where the owner no longer resides is prohibited under current zoning laws? Where could I find more information about this?
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