Pearland approves new regulations for short-term rentals following shooting at Airbnb

PEARLAND, Texas -- Short-term rental property owners will soon be required to register with the city and follow a slew of regulations to operate within Pearland's city limits.

Pearland City Council at its April 11 regular meeting adopted the second and final reading of an ordinance in a 5-2 vote establishing requirements and regulations to operate short-term rentals, such as AirBnB and Vrbo. Council Members Luke Orlando and Adrian Hernandez were the two votes against the ordinance.

SEE RELATED STORY: 2 people shot at party held at Airbnb near the Manvel area, Brazoria Co. Sheriff's Office says

Short-term rental concerns

"This ordinance in and of itself is not going to stop a party from happening," Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole said. "It is not going to stop a shooting from happening, but it does give us some recourse in the event if it does."

The ordinance officially gives the city of Pearland the flexibility to have some control over short-term rental properties operating within its limits.

Hernandez said the reason for changing his vote, which he voted in support for during the first reading, is because after speaking with community members, he realized the committee put together to look at the short-term rentals in the city did not include any short-term rental owners as members.

Cole's reference to a party stems from concerns raised over the past three years among a group of residences near and along Verona Drive near the Green Tee Terrace subdivision.

During the April 11 meeting several residents of the city expressed their support of the ordinance. Resident Joseph Koza, who has been on the front lines regarding concerns of the Verona Drive property over the past few years, said an "event center" did not belong among a residential zoned neighborhood.

Resident Lindsey Lockhart, who lives on the property subjected to complaints during previous council meetings, said multiple comments made over the course of three years were false and could be disproven. She also claimed they were libelous and slanderous.

The approved ordinance

In regards to the ordinance itself, council members, city staff and residents said it is a work in progress.

"This is not going to be the final," Council Member Alex Kamkar said.

If there is a violation, the owner will receive a notice of the violation. The owner will get an opportunity to comply, and if there is no change, then it could result in a Class C misdemeanor that will be resolved in municipal court, Pearland City Attorney Darrin Coker said.

The ordinance passed on April 11 included an amendment from the version passed on the first reading on March 28, which adds a clause that allows short-term rental owners to automatically have their permits to operate as a short-term rental extended by an additional year if they have one or less violation within the first 12-month period of the permit's issuance date.

If they have two or more violations within the first 12-month period, they will have to renew the permit with the city after just one year.

The ordinance establishes numerous rules such as the requirement of a permit to operate a short-term rental in the city and the requirement of hotel occupancy tax payments. It also sets regulations on the properties themselves, such as occupancy limits per room and on the property overall, parking requirements, ad requirements and even safety criteria, such as two means of escape at every room being rented out.

"Are we going to come back and make this better and change it over time? Sure," Council Member Tony Carbone said. "But it's a good start that we need to get started with."

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