Dallas Short Term Rental Debate Closes in on May City Election

City Council Committee discussion postponed Monday for April 4th Meeting

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Years of debate over short-term rental homes in single-family neighborhoods is approaching conclusion at the Dallas City Council with just weeks to go before a city election.

The Dallas City Council Quality of Life Committee Tuesday heard a briefing on the latest zoning plan that is the result of work by advisory boards.

The Committee then held a closed-door session with city lawyers and postponed council member comments until an April 4 full City Council Meeting.

The zoning plan now on the table after three years of debate in Dallas would forbid short-term rentals in single-family residential neighborhoods.

In the Old Lake Highlands neighborhood of Northeast Dallas, Jeff Veazey said he and his wife earn about $9-10,000 a year on the short-term rental unit they’ve made in their garage.

He said it covers Dallas property taxes and may help them stay in their home.

“In the case of short-term rentals, I think everyone agrees it is a very small percentage of the whole that has caused trouble,” Veazey said.

One option suggested earlier in the Dallas debate was to allow short-term rental of owner-occupied properties where the host is on-site to supervise.

Short-term rental opponent Greg Estell said a recent court ruling removed that option.

“You can't differentiate between the two legally. So, if you try to do that, you'll allow short-term rentals of all types to exist throughout the city,” Estell said.

Estell said 85% of Dallas short-term rentals are whole-home rentals and most are owned by absentee investors that reduce available homes for long-term residents.

STR opponents cite short-term rentals that become party houses.

City Council Member Gay Donnell Willis posted on social media about a party house over the weekend.  She questioned the use of police to address a disturbance at that house.

Veazey said problem houses do not justify doing away with short-term rentals.

“We had people killed street racing, but we didn't confiscate all the cars. We didn't tell people they couldn't drive,” he said.

Courts have also said cities may not regulate short-term rentals and then return later with zoning rules to do away with them in certain places.

“Because then you give them the vested right to operate that STR anywhere in the city of Dallas,” Estell said.

The long debate is pushing close to the May 6 Dallas City Council election. Two current council members are term-limited and will be replaced.  Some others face challengers who want to replace them.

The STR opponents want the current members to approve the zoning plan.

“It's a little bit close but we've been pushing very hard for that to happen,” Estell said. “What we don’t want to do is after three years of working on this issue, have to start that education process all over again.”

Jeff Veazey said responsible owners would be treated unfairly with the city plan.

“We feel this is sort of a fundamental issue of property rights,” Veazey said. “As long as we’re living within all the rules the neighborhood sets of peaceful, quiet enjoyment of the property, then we should be allowed to have our privacy, and invite who we want to our home.”

Public comments will be allowed at the April 4 meeting.

A Dallas City Council vote could happen the following week if STR supporters fail to win another delay.

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