Frisco uses common sense about short-term rentals while Dallas drags on

The Dallas area has attractions for all seasons, with people flying into town or driving to town for family vacations, conferences, sporting events and concerts. Companies also bring in people from across the country for orientation, job training and assignments.

All these visitors need accommodation. Everyday Texans and corporate investors have stepped in to boost that supply with short-term rentals advertised on sites including Airbnb and Vrbo.

While Dallas dwells on regulating rentals, treating this burgeoning industry like a hot potato, Frisco and other northern Texas neighbors have proven wiser and more pragmatic.

Last year, the Frisco City Council passed some basic standards for short-term rentals, including requirements for check-in and payment of hotel taxes. The council also approved a set of safety rules, such as prohibiting rentals to anyone under the age of 21 and requiring each property to have 24-hour contact and provide guests with information on parking restrictions and noise level, police and fire department phone numbers, and a floor plan identifying evacuation routes in the event of an emergency.

The ordinance also established a process for revoking the license of problematic properties.

Notably, the ordinance did not limit short-term rentals to certain zoning districts. Homeowners associations — and there are plenty of them in Frisco — can ban them from their neighborhoods. But a search for Frisco properties on Airbnb and Vrbo this week showed dozens of listings across the city, from apartments to lavish homes.

In fact, there appear to be more short-term rentals in Frisco than city officials originally estimated. Last year, they predicted there were about 290 such rentals. But a company the city hired to help with registrations estimates there are now more than 500.

Frisco’s decision to move forward with the regulations was made in anticipation of moving its headquarters to the city of the PGA of America, bringing several golf championships with it.

“Frisco is going to become more important for short-term rentals as the PGA gets here, so we definitely need to have a plan … to address that,” Mayor Jeff Cheney said before voting in favor of the ordinance.

The city recently rolled out an online platform for landlords to register and residents to complain about properties that violate city rules. John Lettelleir, Frisco’s director of development services, told us city staff would report to council in a year on how the ordinance was working in practice.

Irving also just passed an ordinance to oversee short-term rentals, and Plano is considering an ordinance that could go into effect this year if city council approves it.

Meanwhile, Dallas City Hall has been debating what to do about short-term rentals for at least two years, pushing the issue from the task force to committee, board and commission.

Regardless of political disagreements, there should at least be broad recognition that the industry is in this for the long haul and that we need rules in place. Dallas is making itself less competitive than its neighbors by adopting proposals that would kill short-term rentals in single-family neighborhoods.

It certainly doesn’t help anyone when it delays action on even basic requirements that would help ensure properties are safer for visitors and kinder to neighbours.

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