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.

Clint Smith is president of the Short Term Rental Owners Association of Galveston.

(9) comments

JD Arnold

Fact - No one I have spoken to has ever participated in or heard of the so called Poll you speak of.

Mary Branum

There are polls taken all the time; however not everyone is contacted.
Maybe you are on the Do Not Call list:)

GW Cornelius

Never heard of these polls but short term rentals are an important part of Galveston's economy. However they must respect the rights of residents who live in the area. Not all of the short term rentals do that and those are the ones that need to be shut down. There are already laws on the books that will stop the problem they simply must be enforced.

Mary Branum

The problem is not the short term rentals, but the long term residents!

Trashy homes, trashy yards, cars parked in yards, crack houses, numerous vacant houses, drug deals in the street; these are the issues associated with permanent residents.

No rental would last with the above conditions, but it seems the norm for permanent residents and slum landlords with no repercussions from the City.

Jeff Smith

Fact- most people support the Islands STR's unless they are next door to them.

Steve Fouga

I'm going to give Mr Smith the benefit of the doubt and go along with his assertions. (I don't actually believe his surveys were conducted in a manner that reflects reality, I'm just giving him the benefit of the doubt. I think we can all agree that short-term rentals are important to the local economy.)

Fact: Industries important to the economy are regulated.

Here are a few industries that are regulated at the federal, state, and/or local level: petrochemicals, commercial shipping, medicine, education, banking, insurance, commercial fishing, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, retail sales... All are important to the local economy, and all are regulated or restricted in some way.

What makes short-term rentals different?

Personally, I don't like over-regulation. But it seems like your association needs to get its act together. Do abetter job of policing yourselves. I live in one of the neighborhoods you mentioned, and I don't know of anybody who wants a short-term rental nearby. Nobody.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Fact: being supported by the Park Board is the opposite of a positive event.

Mary Branum

I would rather be next to a short term rental than the slobs that reside on both sides, across the street and in the surrounding neighborhood.
Owners of STR's maintain their properties. If they didn't they would never rent which would kill the business.
If there is a problem, the owner or manager can be called. When the neighbor is an owner/resident, they don't give a damn.

Steve Fouga

IslandResident, you make a good point. When a person lives in a neighborhood with slobs all around, a short-term rental is great by comparison.

But here's my good point: When a person lives in a nice neighborhood where everyone takes care of their property, a short-term rental can be awful by comparison. That's the kind of neighborhood I live in.

I don't want them here, period. If any are set up nearby, I want them restricted to a few renters at a time. I don't care as much about whether the ones in your neighborhood are restricted, but I still think it's a good idea.

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