With some city leaders and candidates are still talking about restricting or banning short-term rentals in Galveston, its only logical that candidates and residents should be informed of the facts.
Fact — the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees issued a resolution supporting short-term rentals, declaring they represent a significant portion of hotel occupancy taxes collected and are an important component of overall tourism on the island. Short-term rentals are a vital part of the island economy and they need to be supported.
Fact — a majority of islanders support short-term rentals, according to a public-opinion poll conducted in March. The poll showed “71 percent of Galvestonians view STRs as important to Galveston’s tourism industry” (stroag.org/news.html).
Fact — an Airbnb study shows guests staying at short-term rentals stay twice as long as guests in hotels. These tourists stay longer and spend more money.
Fact — Short Term Rental Owners Association of Galveston analyzed data published by the state of Texas, showing receipts for lodging at short-term rentals in Galveston was about $21 million to $27 million in 2013. With more $20 million spent on lodging, those visitors also spent tens of millions dollars on food, attractions and other goods and services. The economic impact is remarkable.
Fact — in 2013, short-term rentals paid more than $2 million in hotel occupancy taxes to the city of Galveston and more than $1 million to the state of Texas.
Fact — short-term rentals are not a greater source of noise or nuisance complaints than long-term occupants. Galveston Police Department officials confirmed they do not receive complaints about short-term rentals any more often than they are called to homes of long-term occupants.
Fact — investment in homes that can be used as short-term rentals has allowed neighborhoods with properties damaged by Hurricane Ike to be rehabilitated at a faster pace. Historic structures that were neglected and dilapidated or even slated for demolition have been renovated and repurposed.
Fact — in 2013, residents, Realtors, chamber of commerce members and community leaders spoke at City Hall in support of short-term rentals.
Fact — support for short-term rentals also comes from residents and businesses in neighborhoods where they are located, including the San Jacinto Neighborhood Association and the Denver Court Association.
Fact — the Planning Commission has declined to create any new ordinances to restrict short-term rentals, after determining existing ordinances can address problems when properly enforced.
Facts speak for themselves; short-term rentals are having a positive effect on Galveston’s “core” neighborhoods, by preserving older structures and sprucing up neighborhoods.
Demand for real estate is up; any local Realtor will confirm the ability to rent out one’s home on a short-term basis makes it financially feasible for many buyers to purchase and renovate their future retirement homes in Galveston.
This secondary use allows owners to recoup some of the costs of ownership at times when they are not using the home. And this trend has significantly contributed to Galveston’s healthy real estate market at a time when other coastal markets are suffering because of new flood insurance requirements.
Clint Smith is president of the Short Term Rental Owners Association of Galveston.