Homeowner of Short-Term Rental Apologizes After Recent Shooting in Plano Neighborhood

Neighbors ducked for cover in their homes after a barrage of gunfire went off on their street last month. Neighbors said they're fed up with short-term rentals and want them gone

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Neighbors in the Oakwood Glen neighborhood in Plano are still dealing with the trauma of waking up to gunshots almost two weeks ago.

A doorbell camera captured what appeared to be an argument in the street followed by gunshots. One of the bullets pierced through the window of a neighbor's home, entered a toddler's playroom, went through a wall, and ricocheted off blinds and a picture frame before it landed in a cat's litter box.

Neighbors believe all the shooting stemmed from a party that was happening at the rental property across the street on Cannes Drive.

The owner of the home, Jennifer Xiao, wrote a statement apologizing to her neighbors and also sharing her concerns.

"First of all, I need to say sorry for what has happened, I apologize to my neighbors. I feel very sad for myself and my neighborhood," said Xiao.

She said recently got divorced and is a single mother and needed extra money, so she turned the home into a short-term rental.

Xiao says she selected online booking companies such as Airbnb and VRBO to list the house. She said some bookings were blocked through Airbnb because they were "considered as risky."

She said the guests who stayed at her home the weekend of Feb. 26 were through Vrbo.

"On the night of the shooting, I repeatedly confirmed that everything was normal and reminded the guests not to disturb the neighbors, then I went to sleep. The next day at 6 am, I got emails and text messages from my neighbor. When I saw the words 'gunshot,' I felt like I had been shocked by electricity. It was the first time in my life that I had a direct connection with such a horror crime," said Xiao.

In the statement, she stated that she's angry with how Vrbo handled the case.

"I called Vrbo customer service immediately for help, but after I reported the shooting, they just kept asking me to provide evidence. I made second and third calls, they didn't care what happened and didn't ask anything about the
shooting. They just kept repeating the same words. Vrbo’s website claims to provide $1 million liability insurance for each host to cover the neighbor's damages, but when I made a request for my neighbor, they ignored it," said Xiao.

NBC 5 reached out to Vrbo via email, which is the only way provided on their website to get in contact, but has not heard back.

"The shooting has had a tremendous impact on me, and our neighborhood. I am so scared and also very self-blaming. I feel sick when I talk and think about that house. I can't sleep, I may need mental help. I fully understand my neighbors' concerns. I know what safety means to the residents, especially it’s a peaceful, and safe neighborhood," said Xiao.

Outside of this specific incident, those against short-term rentals say this is an example of why they want to see them gone in Plano.

"Our goal is to basically enforce the law, to enforce the prohibition of mini-hotels in our single-family residential neighborhoods," said Bill France with Plano Texas Neighborhood Coalition.

France said people renting out their homes for short stays violate existing laws he said aren't being enforced, which is why he and others want a specific short-term rental ordinance like in Arlington.

"The city of Arlington took the steps to say, 'this is where you're allowed to have short-term rentals, and this is where you're not' and that's all we're asking the city to do," said France.

Plano City Council plans to discuss short-term rental ordinances next Monday, March 13.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who do favor short-term rentals.

"I feel like it should be allowed, but with many restrictions," said Ofir Bugana, a realtor who also owns some short-term rental properties herself.

Bugana, who said she's sold homes to people in Plano who planned to rent it out, said she agrees neighbors should not be disturbed.

She said she supports restrictions such as not allowing large parties or groups to rent out properties, but not an entire ban.

Bugana said she tries to take extra steps to ensure not that her neighbors, guests and home are safe.

"The neighbors, they have my personal number, they can reach out to me at any time even in the middle of the night, to make sure they feel safe. Before that, I screen my guests to be sure they're not doing any parties any noises after 10 or at all, we actually have noise sensors in our house," explained Bugana.

She acknowledges that there may be people who don't operate short-term rentals properly and is against that, but doesn't believe all short-term rentals should be punished.

"If one actor is not behaving then that doesn't mean everyone else should suffer," said Bugana who said she supports working together as a community to keep people safe.

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