The city of Galveston has ordered all short-term guests staying in vacation rental properties to leave the island. 

The order, ratified by Galveston City Council during a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday afternoon, will be in effect at least until 5 p.m. April 3. 

It's the latest in a series of executive decisions by Mayor Jim Yarbrough to discourage tourists from traveling to Galveston. The city declared a state of disaster March 16 and since then has closed bars, tourist attractions and the dining rooms of restaurants. 

"No tourists," Yarbrough said. "Period. That’s the bottom line."

The order doesn't apply to Winter Texans, people who spend the winter months in Galveston, or people who are staying for more than 30 days in a short-term rental property, Yarbrough said. 

Yarbrough's order focused on short-term rentals exclusively, rather than including hotels and motels, because the island's vacation rentals have a higher occupancy rate than hotels.

Island hotels have only about 6 percent occupancy, while the short-term rental owners are reporting near 100 percent occupancy, Yarbrough said. 

Yarbrough also wants hotels to remain functional in case the city needs to use them to house first responders or as hospital rooms, he said. 

"If you close a hotel, it doesn't just open on a dime," Yarbrough said. 

The city council plans to meet next week and might revisit that order if city hotels begin filling up with tourists, he said. 

Enforcement will be based on good-faith trust, Yarbrough said. 

"Enforcement is tough," Yarbrough said. "It's tough during normal times." 

Tuesday's decree also comes with orders that close city fishing piers and game rooms, Yarbrough said. 

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri. 


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(12) comments

dawn wilson

What a crock of crap! If the hotels fill up, it will be a cold day in hell before anyone associated with the City would stay in my home. Thank you Mayor and Council for catering to big business.

Cliff Chatlosh

Good idea. But I don’t think the good faith trust thing will work on most. The majority of the short term tourist that I see come and go where I live think they’re privileged and the rules don’t count for them.

dawn wilson

I would also like to know how the Mayor arrived at the statement that "short term rentals are near 100% occupied". Fact check would be helpful before decisions are made. I know they are not.

Bailey Jones

"short-term rental owners are reporting near 100 percent occupancy" - dubious. A quick check of Airbnb occupancies shows 300 available for this weekend.

Christopher Fluke

Could it be there are STR's on AIRBNB that aren't registered and technically illegal? Maybe that could be a reason for the difference?

Debra Criss

Hotel occupancy was reported at 6% per Park Board information during the council meeting.

Michelle Aycoth

I think you would want all Hotel guests to leave and all at RV travel trailer parks.

Andy Aycoth

David Shea

Thank you! The greed of STRs should never override the well-being of the permanent residents. STRs should not dictate what happens on our Island.

dawn wilson

With all due respect, it is common sense. Telling STR guests to leave residing in a private home, but allowing guests in hotels and B&B's who will come into close contact with a bunch of other people makes no sense! So who is being greedy? The STR or the hotels and B&B owners? And then stating if the hotels become full we will revisit the situation and maybe allow STR's to have guests????? Excuse me, but I am tired of the troubles of the Island always being laid at the STR owners feet. Make decisions that make sense.

David Shea

3,2,1 Mary posts

Mary Gillespie

I don't see how someone staying in a beach house could be a covid-19 risk to his neighbors. They are as far distant (or more) than people staying in homes on the older part of the island.

Bailey Jones

Apparently, the 100% is a miscommunication, and should have said 10%.

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