Dallas City Council members this week pushed forward a years-long debate about regulation of short-term rental units in the city.
Ironically, right across the plaza from city hall, a former college football player was found murdered in a short-term rental apartment Thursday night.
Police said DuVonte Lampkin, 25, was shot to death in the apartment at 500 S. Ervay Street.
Police said the victim was renting the unit for a week while waiting for his own new apartment to be ready.
The victim’s wallet, backpack and cellphone were also missing from the apartment, police said.
Oklahoma University issued a statement of condolences and grief about the former player’s death.
A manager at the building declined to comment about Short Term Rental policy there.
Some other Dallas apartment complexes are known to help tenants lease units short-term or to operate vacant units as short-term rentals.
Some residents of single-family home neighborhoods have been lobbying the city council to enforce zoning restrictions that would forbid short-term rental of single-family homes in residential areas.
Other residents support regulations to keep the money-making business going.
Around 1,500 short-term rental units are registered with the city to pay hotel taxes. But critics claim there may be 5,000 or more operating without regulation based on short-term rental listings online.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Neighbors complain a large upscale North Dallas home has become a party venue, with weddings and big gatherings nearly every weekend for the past three months.
“It's like a 7-11 opened up next to me. You can't do that,” neighbor Jim Fox said. He lives right next door to the house.
“The cops came out last weekend and I think cited them for noise and it's just not a good thing to have 50 to 100 strangers come in,” Fox said.
Neighbor Cindy Hellstern lives down the street from the home, and the front of a culdesac through which all traffic to the rental house must pass.
“And it’s just escalated. The weekend of Wrestle-Mania in Arlington, they had a rotating group,” Hellstern said. “We need zoning that is specific, delineating short-term rentals and where they can legally operate.”
Vera Elkins is a short-term rental host handling dozens of Dallas properties.
“We provide jobs for people. That means food on people's table,” Elkins said.
She said the short-term rentals provide a valuable service, support a growing economy and that fair regulations requested by reputable operators would end problems that some neighbors have reported.
“We're trying to enforce regulations that will stop that because I won't tolerate that type of thing,” Elkins said. “There’s a need and they’re trying to eliminate a solution.”
Opponents contend that regulating the dwelling units and allowing them to remain in neighborhoods would eliminate the option of removing them later with zoning restrictions.
Dallas City Councilman Paul Ridley discussed that concern at a city council briefing on STR’s Wednesday.
“Once a license is granted for an STR, they obtain according to various court decisions, a vested right to continue that status and therefore, we would be precluded from regulating them through the zoning process. That is what happened in Austin.” Ridley said. “That’s the trap that we don’t want to fall into. Regulations governing the operation are still needed, however.”
The apartment complex where Thursday’s victim was discovered has half a dozen units listed online at one short-term rental site.
It is a way that landlords and tenants have been making extra money.
“Short term rentals have been an inevitable shift in the model of the hospitality industry which has resulted in cities missing out on millions of dollars in hotel occupancy taxes,” Councilman Adam Bazaldua said.
Councilman Omar Narvaez said that 8 of the units in a 10-unit townhome complex recently completed in his district have been purchased by corporations as short-term rental units.
“And only two of the people who purchased are going to be actual residents of that little townhome community. So, we literally created a hotel inside of this little residential neighborhood,” Narvaez said.
He suggested spacing requirements should be considered in future Dallas regulations.
The result of Wednesday’s lengthy city council discussion was a request for city staff to return in June with both a zoning plan and STR regulations to be decided at the same time.
After years of debate in Dallas, the STR issue could be decided in June and hopefully settle some neighbor complaints.
The person neighbors say is managing the North Dallas wedding venue did not return a call from NBC 5.