SAN ANGELO – Short Term Rentals (STR’s) have become a civic “STD”. Short Term Rentals within residential areas are not healthy. They deplete access to affordable housing, threaten the stability of neighborhoods by undermining the reasonable expectations of zoning, and diminish quality of life for affected residents.
This week an application to approve a STR request on Red Bluff Road W has renewed our community conversation about the pros and cons of short term rentals. A split decision from the Planning Commission was appealed to the City Council for an up or down vote. The Planning Department recommended approval subject to certain mitigating factors outlined in the ordinance governing STR’s. After a hearing, the city council voted down the request.
Online giants like Airbnb and VRBO have upended communities throughout the world by creating an easy marketplace for STR’s. Landlords are happy to maximize profits and transient customers benefit from more choices and less expensive cost. This comes with a civic price. Residents are stiffed and local policy makers are left with the task of mitigating the fall out. It’s in the best interest of our city to push back harder and further prioritize the interests of homeowners, neighborhood groups, and long-term renters.
Your home is your sanctuary. With this comes the expectation of stability, peace, law-and-order. STR’s subject residential homeowners and long-term renters to unreasonable nuisances.
To my mind, STR’s around Lake Nasworthy have become luxury flop houses that exploit the residential zoning. STR’s around Angelo State University limit the availability of student housing. STR’s around the coliseum restrict affordable housing in a traditionally working class neighborhood. The list goes on. Landlords and consortiums are scaling up commercial STRs in strategic locations at the expense of the greater good.
It’s time for all the “Karen’s”, “Craig’s”, homeowners and long-term tenants throughout San Angelo to push back on Short Term Rentals (STR’s) within residential areas. STR’s on the whole are corroding domestic tranquility, stable long-term housing, and a sense of community. The results are not good.
Joseph W Lown
Mr. Lown is a former Mayor of San Angelo