Short-term rental debate in Dallas culminates in May city elections
A decades-long debate about short-term home leasing in single-family neighborhoods is drawing to a close in the Dallas City Council, with city elections just weeks away.
The Dallas City Council’s Quality of Life Committee on Tuesday heard a briefing on the latest zoning plan, which is the result of the work of the advisory councils.
The committee then held a closed session with city lawyers and deferred council members’ comments until a full city council meeting on April 4.
The zoning plan, now on the table after three years of debate in Dallas, bans single-family short-term residential rentals.
In the Old Lake Highlands area of northeast Dallas, Jeff Veasey said he and his wife make about $9-10,000 a year from a short-term apartment they made in their garage.
He said it covered Dallas property taxes and could help them stay in their home.
“In the case of short-term rentals, I think everyone agrees that a very small percentage of the total is causing problems,” Vesey said.
One option proposed earlier in the Dallas debate was to allow short-term leases on owner-occupied property when the owner is on site for observation.
An opponent of short-term leases, Greg Estell, said a recent court decision overturned that option.
“You can’t legally distinguish between them. So if you try to do that, you will allow short-term rentals of all types to exist throughout the city,” Estell said.
Estelle said 85% of short-term rentals in Dallas are whole-house rentals, and most of them are owned by absentee investors who are reducing the number of available homes for long-term residents.
Opponents of STR cite short-term rentals becoming a party house.
City Council member Gay Donnell Willis posted on social media about the weekend party house. She questioned the use of the police to clean up the riots in that house.
Veasey said troubled homes don’t justify giving up short-term leases.
“We killed people in street races, but we didn’t confiscate all the cars. We didn’t tell people they couldn’t drive,” he said.
The courts have also said that cities can choose not to regulate short-term leases and then come back later with zoning regulations to do away with them in certain locations.
“Because then you give them the legal right to operate that STR anywhere in the city of Dallas,” Estell said.
A long debate is coming up for the May 6th Dallas City Council election. The two current council members have a limited term of office and will be replaced. Some others face applicants who want to replace them.
Opponents of the STR want current members to approve the zoning plan.
“It’s a little close, but we worked really hard to make it happen,” Estell said. “What we don’t want is after three years of working on this issue to start this educational process again.”
Jeff Veasey said responsible owners would treat the city plan unfairly.
“We think it’s kind of a fundamental property rights issue,” Vesey said. “As long as we live in accordance with all the rules laid down by neighbors for the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of property, we should be allowed to have privacy and invite into our home whoever we want.”
Public comments will be allowed at the April 4 meeting.
The Dallas City Council vote could take place next week if STR supporters fail to win another reprieve.
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