Frisco will regulate the city’s short-term rentals

Sabrina Jackson and her young son, Berend, stayed at this Airbnb in Frisco in September. (Matt Payne / Community Impact Journal)

Californian Sabrina Jackson and her young son, Berend, walked around toys scattered around the yard of a short-term rental property on Oak Street, near the historic downtown Frisco district.

The couple were visiting the week of September 13, the third trip in recent years for medical reasons. The short-term rental they found on Airbnb is one of hundreds in Frisco that will soon have to register with the city. The city council has passed an ordinance that will come into effect on November 15 as part of an effort to ensure public safety and ensure the collection of hotel occupancy taxes.

“We love meeting new people,” she said of staying in homes for rent on the Airbnb website. “It’s always the case that you meet a new family, meet new people, and maybe get lucky enough to use a yard and not be confined to a small room.”

Starting November 15, Frisco owners looking to rent space for less than 30 days at a time will need to apply for a municipal permit online, pay an annual fee of $ 300 plus city hotel taxes, provide floor plans, set maximum number of guests and meet other requirements. No formal deadline has been set for the registration of existing properties.

City staff say the ordinance is intended to protect neighborhoods from noise nuisance and code violations, preserve residential housing, and ensure proper tax collection from owners of homes listed on sites such as Airbnb. and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO). However, short-term rental owners and other city leaders have mixed feelings.

Be content with the status quo

Matt and Brooklyn Calloway own the guesthouse the Jackson family rented and listed it on Airbnb for the past two years. Regarding the new ordinance that will impose fees and enforce stricter rules for rental owners, Matt Calloway sighed heavily.

“I am against the city trying to regulate it, but I think if they do, I agree with the ordinance they have drawn up,” he said. “I’m just afraid they’ll keep moving the needle on it on the road.”

The Calloways said their guesthouse has been booked 80-100% of each month since they started using Airbnb. So far, no visit has worsened, said Matt Calloway.

Surrounding cities take different approaches to short-term rentals. McKinney and Plano collect hotel taxes from the city under a deal with service providers like Airbnb.

Matt Calloway said an order as broad as Frisco’s is unnecessary. He added that his family already pays all hotel occupancy taxes through the Airbnb app. The city ordinance aims to ensure that homeowners pay 7% city tax in addition to 6% state tax.

“We had such a positive experience,” he said. “Seeing such small negative experiences and the fact that they made the ordinance just because of so few incidents over thousands and thousands of nights and days was a little disheartening. “

Mike Scarlett owns a property in Frisco and offers it for rent on Airbnb. He said he agrees with the order.

“I think a small annual fee is fine, and I think it’s good to make sure people sleep in a safe environment,” Scarlett said.

Scarlett works as a building contractor and has rented a property on North County Road for the past four months. He said the demand is huge and greater than he originally anticipated.

The city must take action to enforce safety standards, Scarlett said.

“I agree with the status quo when it comes to fees and passing an inspection,” Scarlett said. “I know someone could stay in a place that has all kinds of security concerns.”

Respond to troubles

Prior to the adoption of the new ordinance, Frisco Police identified 25 short-term rentals through 92 service calls to these properties between 2019 and 2021. The calls included complaints of noise, domestic disturbance, and activities related to drugs, harassment and parking problems.

That number is not enough to merit a new ordinance, according to Pro Mayor Tem Bill Woodard. Woodard was the only one to vote against the ordinance at the August 17 council meeting.

“I’m not sure if the burden of the licensing process outweighs the fact that it’s just a handful of properties,” said Woodard.

He argued that the city should try other avenues before issuing an ordinance. These could include expanded work with third-party police liaisons with Airbnb, VRBO and Expedia, according to Frisco Police.

The council member also added that the city may seek to resolve rental property issues through litigation. The ordinance adds layers of rules for all those that Woodard says are unnecessary.

“We could end up revoking the license and then having to sue them for an injunction requiring them to stop leasing,” Woodard said. “The ordinance doesn’t do much other than what we already have in our power.”

Michael Armistead sits on the board of directors of The Landing at Waterstone Homeowners Association and has offered a different opinion.

The six-year-old resident and small business owner said he sees “the good, the bad and the ugly” of homeownership and believes the ordinance provides accountability.

“Yes [this guideline provides] a certain structure, I don’t think that’s an undue interference with the power of the city council, ”Armistead said.

Armistead praised Frisco for including a language in the order that requires 24/7 emergency contact.

“I don’t think it is too much to ask the owner to provide basic information and follow basic guidelines so that there are remedies that can be taken by the community so that this is taken care of afterwards. blow, “he said. noted.

According to Penny Curtis, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, one of the main goals of the ordinance is to compile a database of short-term rentals in Frisco. Throughout workshops and city council meetings, Curtis said the city has no way of knowing exactly how many short-term rental properties are in Frisco, and charging a fee covers labor costs. ‘artwork. The city will pay approximately $ 40,000 per year in administrative costs to fund the ordinance.

Curtis said the city may already visit properties in violation of existing city codes, such as parking violations and poorly maintained grass. The new short-term rental ordinance adds another layer, according to Curtis, allowing the city to potentially revoke a short-term rental license for violating the code.

“If a violation occurs … [and] we get a complaint, we’re going to go out and inspect it like it’s long term property, ”Curtis said. “We’re going to go out and inspect them, and we’ll take care of this problem right away.”

Business affairs

Frisco resident Brittany Lowe said running an Airbnb during the first months of the pandemic helped her in times of unemployment.

Lowe has been renting a property for about a year now and lives near his rental property. She said the ordinance would help improve the local industry by excluding landowners who have not committed to short-term rentals.

“I think if you’re serious about this it can take out some of the people who are going to do it on a whim here and there,” Lowe said.

Lowe’s rental and others like it compete directly with hotels in Frisco. But Marla Roe, executive director of Visit Frisco marketing group, said short-term rentals didn’t have enough power to shake up the city’s hospitality industry.

Roe said many visitors appreciate the amenities and services typically offered by hotels, such as on-site bars and restaurants, and housekeeping. The regulations will not have a big effect on tourism in Frisco, she added.

“The ordinance is not intended to penalize short-term rentals, but to help the city know where these STRs are located and who owns the homes in the event of disruptions or incidents where the owner should be contacted, a kinda like a hotel manager would be contacted about an incident at a hotel, ”said Roe. “It’s a very small price for the owner to register, so it shouldn’t impact the few visitors who prefer an RTS over a hotel.”

Frisco Police Officer Kayla Carney said the town has a variety of tourist spots that make it attractive to both short-term rental owners and guests.

“As the city’s growth continues, there is an inherent increase in short-term rentals in the city,” she said. “The Frisco Police Department is looking for solutions that will also make it easier to comply with all national and local laws. as support for the continued attraction of the city.

As development continues in Frisco, city officials have said they are looking to forestall illegal activities that may arise in short-term rentals.

Lowe said his experience with tourists, including visitors to the Star and Toyota Stadium, has been only positive.

She has hosted almost 70 people since the first space rental and described the worst of them as ‘messy’.

” That does not bother me. I think if you’re committed to running Airbnb as a business, that’s part of running a business, ”Lowe said. “I would love to own multiple Airbnbs in the city.”

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About Michael B. Billingsley

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