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San Antonio To Discuss Regulating Airbnb Rentals

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Councilman Mike Gallagher talks with a resident about Airbnb rentals.

The San Antonio City Council may consider regulating short-term home rentals and reservations made through Airbnb and similar companies. 

Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway allow visitors to rent a house or a room in a home instead of staying in traditional hotels.  In San Antonio, Airbnb listings  go for anywhere from $21 to $300 or higher a night.

San Antonio Councilman Mike Gallagher, who represents the Northeast side, says his constituents have been complaining.

“What I’m hearing from my neighborhoods is that apparently there’s a lot of issues with parking at night time, with strangers in the neighborhood and so forth.  The people don’t know what’s going on and they need some kind of protection,” Gallagher says.

Gallagher filed aCouncil Consideration Requestasking council members to look at options for regulating the rental businesses.

Gallager’s says he sees both benefits and problems with short term rentals- they allow homeowners to make extra income,  but the industry has no accountability in citie like San Antonio that have no specific policies.

“A number of cities around the nation are actually looking into this issue," he says. "They’re charging the same thing as a hotel-motel tax.”

The councilman is asking staff to look at several factors:

-Research whether short-term rentals affect property values and neighborhood safety statistics. -Review how cities have updated municipal codes or ordinances to allow this industry to operate.-Review options for registering hosts with the city, and if a permit should be required.  -Research if short-term rentals should be required to remit hotel occupancy taxes to the city -Determine policies and procedures to enhance public safety in the short term rental industry.

Right now, the City does not add a tax to Airbnb rental prices as it does for hotel bookings.  Gallagher wants a council committee to look at that option and other  possible regulations to determine whether San Antonio needs an ordinance for Airbnb and similar companies.  The city council's governance committee could review the item in March.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules