Despite the efforts of state Sen. Larry Taylor, a bill designed to strip local control from communities in determining the best ways to manage short-term rentals passed this week with a vote of 22-9.

Senate Bill 451 is bad for residents of Galveston, Galveston County and all Texans.

A similar bill from the House, HB 2551 is in committee and pending. Both need to be stopped or altered to head off disastrous outcome for property owners and those in favor of local control of such issues.

As we have argued before, the problem with the bills has nothing to do with the pros and cons of short-term rentals. The problem is about who gets to decide in the cities and towns of Texas, whether the pros outweigh the cons. That’s how it is now. Local people get to decide what at its core is a zoning issue. These bills would end that.

Hidden under the disguise of “individual property rights” the bills represent a plain, old-fashioned money play. Both bills reek of the motivations of big business and result in the poking a sharp stick in the eyes of local governments and residents. It feels “un-Texan.”

The bills are being pushed by organizations that stand to benefit financially from accelerated growth in the short-term rental industry, such as VRBO, Airbnb and Austin-based HomeAway.

The bills aim to clear the way of any obstacles and create a world in which short-term rentals can operate unrestricted. Disruptions to neighbors affected by short-term rentals are not the proponents’ concern.

To his credit, Taylor, a Galveston Republican, proposed an amendment seeking to exempt Galveston from SB 451, arguing that the island was unique and had its own fair local regulations to handle short-term rentals.

Taylor’s amendment would have applied only to communities that border the Gulf of Mexico, had pre-existing regulations on short-term rental housing and had adopted resolutions saying that tourism is the central component of the economy of the city.

Unfortunately, Taylor’s amendment failed, 18-13. Similar amendments filed to exempt Austin and San Antonio from the bill also failed.

Taylor, also to his credit, voted against the bill’s final passage.

Taylor knows the Gulf Coast. And we’re sure those representing Austin and San Antonio know their communities as well.

The author of SB 451 is state Sen. Kelly Hancock, a North Richland Hills Republican, who represents a community more than 300 miles from the Gulf Coast.

What about HR 2551? That was authored by Flower Mound Republican Tan Parker, another Dallas area representative.

Do we really want Dallas telling all of Texas how to govern local communities? We think not.

These two bills are bad for Texans, as well as residents of Galveston, and should be stopped. Let local governments and the residents across Texas decide what is best for their communities — not two representatives from Dallas.

• Leonard Woolsey

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

(8) comments

JD Arnold

Come on Mr. Woolsey, not even a mention of how our local representatives in the house are going to vote on this. If you tried to contact them and they won't talk to you then we should know that. It's not just this issue, it's something we have become accustomed to with the GDN. Sorry if this sounds critical but I feel it needs to be said.

Mary Branum

Jay Arnold, HBH2551 has not been voted out of committee. The Bill is to be presented next week for vote. There is a possibility it could fail. With hundreds, if not thousands, of Bills at the legislature, to receive a definitive answer is too early at this point.
Perhaps contacting Senator Hancock and asking why someone from North Richland Hills who resides in a gated community with HOA protection is hell bent on removing local control.

Leonard Woolsey hit the nail on the head. These Bills are written by big business to further their bottom line. They have nothing to do with what is good for Texans. HomeAway lost in Austin in the regulation of STR's and are attempting to thumb their nose at Austin by encompassing the entire State with a "One size fits all" Bills. These needs to fail. I urge all to contact the representatives that serve on the House Urban Affairs committee to voice your opinion. The information can be found on the Texas legislature website. There were 30+ of us that spoke before the Senate Business and Commerce committee in March and 47 Tuesday before the House Urban Affairs Committee. Everyone's voice needs to be heard,

Diane Turski

I'm glad that Senator Taylor voted against this bill! I hope the House bill fails! The state has no business denying local control to cities and their citizens! This is definitely a special interest group money and power grab! Stop it now!

Carlos Ponce

"Critics of the bill said it would lower property values and allow Texans to rent houses to people who might host disruptive parties and increase traffic in their neighborhoods.
Proponents say SB 451 would protect homeowners from strict local laws that infringe on property rights while still allowing a limited amount of local regulation, such as prohibitions on short-term renters housing sex offenders or selling alcohol or illegal drugs to guests."
https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/18/texas-senate-approves-bill-regulate-short-term-home-rentals/
" SB 451 expressly protects local governments' ability to impose reasonable regulations, such as residential zoning restrictions, to ensure the health and safety of the people and communities they serve. Those regulations just can't have the same effect as an outright short - term rental ban." Kelly Hancock
http://www.senate.texas.gov/members/d09/press/en/p20170227a.pdf
From text of SB 451:
"(c) A municipality or county may adopt or enforce a local law that specifically regulates property used as a short-term rental only if the county or municipality demonstrates that the local law's primary purpose is to protect the public's health and safety. Local laws authorized by this subsection include regulations:
(1) addressing:
(A) fire and building codes;
(B) health and sanitation;
(C) traffic control; and
(D) solid or hazardous waste and pollution control; and
(2) requiring the designation of an emergency contact for the property.
(d) A municipality or county may adopt or enforce a local law that limits or prohibits the use of a short-term rental only if the law limits or prohibits the use of a rental for the purpose of:
(1) housing sex offenders;
(2) operating a structured sober living home or similar enterprise;
(3) selling illegal drugs;
(4) selling alcohol or another activity that requires a permit or license under the Alcoholic Beverage Code; or
(5) operating as a sexually oriented business.
(e) A municipality or county shall apply a local law regulating land use to a short-term rental in the same manner as another similar property. A local law described by this subsection includes regulations on:
(1) residential use and other zoning matters;
(2) noise;
(3) property maintenance; and
(4) nuisance."
(f) This section may not be construed to affect regulations of a private entity, including a property owners' association as defined by Section 204.004, Property Code.
http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/SB00451I.htm

GALVESTON PARK BOARD ORDINANCE NO. 15-012
http://www.galvestonparkboard.org/DocumentCenter/View/69

Chuck DiFalco

Mr. Woolsey, I agree. To everyone else: it is completely hypocritical to criticize Washington DC mandate what states can or cannot do, then turn around to favor the State to mandate what cities can or cannot do.

Carlos Ponce

The Federal Government is limited to what is in the Constitution. All other powers belong to the states and/or the people.
10th Amendment : "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Steve Fouga

Carlos, I can't tell if you're for the bill or against it, or just providing info.

The bill is bad for Galveston. Galveston's process for regulating short-term rentals is working well enough that our city is considered a model within the rental industry, one of the best anywhere.

The bill isn't necessarily overreach, but it's bad for Galveston. That's why Senator Taylor's amendment was such an elegant compromise. I guess there's not much room for compromise these days.

Carlos Ponce

The bill doesn't bother me since I don't own short term rentals nor do I ever rent. I'm just providing information.

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