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Technology & Entrepreneurship

San Antonio Zoning Commission Greenlights Short Term Rental Ordinance

Paul Flahive
Texas Public Radio

San Antonio’s Zoning Commission voted 10-1 Tuesday to send draft short term rentals regulations to City Council’s B-session, where council is briefed on legal, policy, and other city matters.


The commission peppered Mike Dice and other development services staff with questions about the complex document that will impact how people use their homes. In its 10-1 yay vote, the commission also recommended strengthening requirements around how many Type 2 STRs, or non-owner occupied properties, could be within a given area.

The commission joins two other city organizations — the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustments — in adding additional regulations to the ordinance.

Credit Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
So many people showed up for Zoning Commission Meeting that meeting was delayed 10 minutes while they rotated groups out.

Forty-two people signed up to speak on the draft ordinance, nearly twice as many as two weeks ago, when council discussed it in its Health & Equity Committee. That committee slowed down the ordinance, which beforehand was scheduled for a vote Thursday. Now it will go to a yet unscheduled B-session. City staff have said they don’t expect it to go to the council session until March, at the earliest.

In the past few weeks, multiple neighborhood associations and neighborhood groups have asked for strong regulations around Type 2 rentals. King William Association has asked for an outright ban on them within its historic confines.

Tony Garcia was on the city’s volunteer task force that helped craft the ordinance. He lives in Monte Vista, a neighborhood that endorsed the ordinance in a letter, but wanted stronger requirements around density of Type 2 rentals.

“Displacement of housing stock, whether it be rentals or home ownership, that’s the biggest worry we have,” Garcia said.

In his presentation, he cited AirDNA, a website that tracks STRs on the popular platform Airbnb to show the growth in STRs over the past two years. It was unclear from his presentation how many were Type 2 rentals and how many were the less controversial Type 1, where owners live on the properties.

Cullen Jones was also on the task force and had similar concerns about the density requirements around all STRs. He also used AirDNA to show 169 percent annual increase in STR rentals in his neighborhood, Dignowity Hill.

Credit Courtesy Airdna.co
Purple icons are whole house rentals, which are more likely to be Type 2 STRs.

Jones said that Dignowity is “low hanging fruit” for house flippers and he believed could be gobbled up by short term rentals operators.

“There are still people in the neighborhood that are hanging on by toenails and fingernails.,” he said.

Anita Ortiz also lives in Dignowity, and operates multiple Type 2 STRs. She told the commission the premise that she is removing affordable housing stock is bogus.

“We add value to our neighborhood through renovating abandoned and boarded up houses,” Ortiz said.

She said she couldn’t have invested in any of the properties she did without being able to rent it as a Type 2 rental.

Under the draft ordinance, all STRs will be permitted, inspected, pay fees, as well as ensure operators pay Hotel Occupancy Taxes. According to Mike Dice, city staff believe 260 operators currently pay the tax, while they have seen estimates of as many as 1500-2000 operators in the area.

Paul Flahive can be reached at paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive