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From The Blog
By Farzad Mashhood | Friday, June 8, 2012, 01:03 AM
The Austin City Council gave preliminary approval to a set of rules for short-term home rentals early Friday, following nearly two years of civic debate.
The council’s rules, approved by a 5-2 vote, allow so-called commercial short-term rentals, homes that are not occupied by the owner, while setting a cap on how many of those rentals can operate within a certain zip code.
Opponents and supporters of short-term rentals packed City Council chambers late Thursday into Friday, taking turns to speak before a vote on new regulations for the rentals. The council heard about three hours of public testimony before considering a pair of proposals from council members.
The rules also allow a homeowner to short-term rent his or her home, or another home on the same property without getting a health and safety inspection, something a set of rules recommended by the city’s planning commission had called for.
Short-term rentals, which have become more common in many neighborhoods especially near downtown, have not previously been regulated in Austin.
Some council members expressed concerns with allowing the commercial rentals. A 3 percent cap on the proportion of single-family homes that can be short-term rented, for example, may create “an underground market of short-term rentals,” said Council Member Mike Martinez, who voted in favor of the rules.