The city of Galveston shouldn’t be hasty in trading control and oversight of short-term vacation rentals for the promise of easy money. If history and precedent teach us anything, it’s the money won’t be so easy and the downsides might be steep, including in legal fees and some very unhappy residents and owners.

Island leaders are considering entering into voluntary collection agreements, under which large booking firms such as Vrbo or Airbnb collect local hotel occupancy taxes from properties they list and deliver that money in lump sum to the city.

 Laura Elder: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com.

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(9) comments

Susan Fennewald

I agree.

If they don't provide addresses - which they could easily do - then its just aiding and abetting wrong doers and preventing the city from having proper control.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

Bailey Jones

" most prevented city officials from learning the names or addresses of Airbnb hosts..." Most means not all - so there are agreements out there with cities that allow for the reporting of STR owners. That should be the basis of any agreement with Airbnb or Vrbo. I simply don't believe that transmitting a spreadsheet of owners to the city once a year is a hardship for these large online booking agencies.

Wayne D Holt

"More recently, local vacation rental operators have proposed an annual fee paid by property owners to fund enforcement and compliance programs and to pay for tourism officials whose sole jobs would be to ensure vacation rentals follow the rules."

I know someone who is involved in multiple STR property management. The above remark is the key. Neighbors are being forced to find parking down the street because some renters ignore the contract terms limiting vehicle numbers. Others think of Galveston as their one-stop open air party and treat the property--and the neighbors--to match.

Galveston has the same identity crisis with STR as it does with events. It still appears to believe enforcement is a four-letter word and squeezing every last tourism dollar is more important than building cohesive neighborhoods.

By all means, find the resources to support the kind of environment good owners will thrive in...and put the rest of them out of business. Killing neighborhoods just to put rowdy heads in crummy beds isn't worth it.

Raymond Lewis

Good article and totally agree Laura. The city, park board, owners and local rental companies have much *diligent* (not so easy) work to do.

David Hardee

Thanks, Excellent, informative, and inspiring article. Having been a renter of such facilities I noted the ineptness of the operators to oversite of the use of the property and the lack of enforcement by any agency. Your caveats are well-founded.

Looking forward to a follow-up.

Robin Franklin

Good article. The City simply can't collect taxes on short term rentals and then expect the Galveston Police Department to deal with the increasing late-night calls about loud parties out in the yards of short term vacation rentals. Hopefully the City Marshal's office can be expanded to deal with nuisance calls. Galveston residents have property rights too.

Ana Ortiz-Monasterio Draa

Has any data been collected to prove that STR properties generate more noise complaints than owner occupied and long term rental properties? If no, why not? It’s well past time the city start dealing with documented facts. To that end, as they are looking at new requirements on our STR homes, I highly recommend the city require STR owners to have NoiseAware noise monitoring devices on their homes. They collect historical data, so when a complaint is made, there’s a record...not just hearsay. https://noiseaware.com/

Robin Franklin

That's a great recommendation. It would be good for residents trying to prove a nuisance situation near them. Police reports determine whether or not there was a noise issue and those reports are public record. A monitoring device could be another layer of proof.

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