Short term rental compliance creating costs for Wimberley

More than $4,800 has been spent by Wimberley’s short term rentals (STR) committee for drafting a new ordinance further regulating those businesses.

The committee could spend another $1,000 in the next 60 days to finish the ordinance, per a March 21 city council expenditure allowing further work to be done.

According to city documents, Wimberley has so far spent approximately $3,100 in legal fees, $300 reviewing the city’s contract with Host Compliance and $2,800 toward development of the new STR Conditional Use Permit (CUP). 

City Administrator Shawn Cox said the city could have to spend “just as much” to rewrite its rules, based on what happens with six bills circulating in the 86th Texas Legislative session dealing with STR regulation. All told, Wimberley could spend around $6,000 to craft an ordinance that doesn’t include any measures that might be required by the state.

According to Cox’s discussions with the city attorney, there are around three bills that might make it out of the current session.

But residents argued against the committee’s push to move the ordinance forward before the end of the legislative session.

At a recent joint workshop with P&Z and the STR Committee, local resident Ned Murphy worried about the proposed changes and how they could impact the local lodging industry.

Although not completed, the proposed ordinance would bring noncompliant STRs into compliance. 

Privacy concerns with recent software purchase
In conjunction with the added measures, the Wimberley City Council recently approved the purchase of a $19,000 program and software that will help bring STRs into compliance, a move that has mobilized some residents to protest the purchase, citing privacy concerns.

Part of the ordinance change would require STR owners in the city limits to reapply for their conditional use permit (CUP) every year.

The software will aid the city ensure owners are operating within the conditions of their STR. 

City council members wanted the ordinance to be drafted for approval, citing the amount of time the committee has worked on drafting it. 

“(This has) been drug out too long,” said council member Mike McCullough. “We need to get the thing moving.” 

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