Final vote on Dallas short-term rental homes promised

Dallas City Manager says item will be posted June 14 after more drama Wednesday

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After hours of debate and new drama Wednesday at a briefing on short-term rental homes in Dallas, City Manager T.C. Broadnax said there will be a final City Council vote scheduled next Wednesday on whether to ban STRs in single-family neighborhoods.

That word came after more than four years of fighting over STRs in Dallas.

The new drama Wednesday came when a top staff member offered her recommendation. Chief Planning Officer Julia Ryan's path was contrary to what the Dallas City Plan Commission recommended and some council members sought.

New pressure for a ban came after gunfire Saturday night at a party house in the Midway Hollow neighborhood. Resident videos of crowds there in the street at what neighbors said was a short-term rental brought several of those people to city hall Wednesday as public speakers.

“You are tasked with keeping our neighborhoods safe. The neighborhoods are not safe when short-term rentals are allowed to operate in them,” Midway Hollow resident Sonya Hebert said.

City figures show STRs are responsible for more calls to 311 or 911 than other homes, but 80% of STRs have no complaints.

Hosts who said they cause no problems asked to be allowed to continue their business. They said they register with the city and pay hotel taxes so they were led to believe it is legal.

“You never imply in anything I’ve read this was temporary or could be stopped or in the future,” STR host Karen Eubank said.

The plan commission recommendation is to define STRs as lodging which is not allowed in Dallas neighborhoods zoned as single-family residential.

Councilman Chad West asked Ryan for her professional recommendation and she said she would take a different approach.

“The districts permitted would be all of them. The zoning ordinance would not be driving the land use on that,” Ryan said.

“Not as a residential or commercial use but a new use, and it would be allowed everywhere,” West asked.

“Correct,” Ryan said.

At the same time, Ryan said short-term rental regulations would be refined to specify where they could go.

It is not the approach city staff had been directed to take years back in the long debate.

“Staff did make their recommendation, and we as a body said, we reject those, go this different recommendation,” Councilman Omar Narvaez said.

He recalled past conversations with Ryan in which she said STRs should be defined as lodging and not as residential use.

“I’m just going to speak for myself, that’s why I’m perplexed right now,” Narvaez said.

Other opponents of STRs in residential neighborhoods have pushed for the lodging definition.

“I believe in strong private property rights but that has to include the rights of the neighbors. And I don’t see how single-family neighborhoods should include commercial hotels,” Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said.

Dallas code enforcement is busy with many other tasks, but code enforcement people would be expected to boost STR enforcement with new regulations.

New options could send the whole issue back to lower levels of city government for months more study and delay.

Code enforcement people said they could be ready to do so in 6 months but it would be challenging. But code staffing would still be lacking during evening and overnight hours when most complaints occur.

Councilman Chad West voiced support for adding multi-family neighborhoods to the locations where STRs would be allowed in Dallas.

Broadnax said there will be a final vote next Wednesday along with a formal staff recommendation.

Broadnax said Mayor Eric Johnson told him that council members about to leave office over term limitations should have the chance to vote on this after four years of debate.

Amendments to the plan can be voted up or down by the council after more debate when the item is posted on a voting agenda.

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