Wimberley shuts down Short Term Rental Committee workshop

In a split 3-2 vote earlier this month, Wimberley city leaders rejected holding a workshop with the Short Term Rental Committee (STR), ending any chance of it meeting again in the future.

Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Minnick, along with councilmembers Christine Byrne and Bo Bowman voted to deny the workshop, saying the work of the STR Committee is complete. Council members Craig Fore and Gary Barchfeld voted in favor of the workshop.

The decision to deny the workshop was in light of information that questioned the validity and charge of the committee. In March, the committee estimated 200 STRs in the city were out of compliance..

In late April, it was reported that the city only had 15 STRs out of compliance.

The committee was formed in July 2018 to revise the city’s STR ordinance to bring non-compliant operators into compliance. However, the committee’s formation, members and findings were scrutinized by Wimberley residents along the way. Wimberley spent nearly $6,000 to rework the ordinance.

Minnick said the committee already completed the ordinance and the job was done, so a workshop was not necessary, especially with more talks scheduled.

“We have budget workshops, parliamentary workshops and a sewer we need to get online; a lot is stacking up,” Minnick said. “I agree with Councilmember Byrne. It makes more sense (for the committee) to give us a presentation. I don’t understand the value of a joint workshop.”

The denial was heavily scrutinized by Mayor Susan Jaggers, who was shocked at the vote.

“This is the same council that ran on ‘we want openness and participation’ and everything else, and now it’s like, we don’t want to have a workshop,” Jaggers said.

Jaggers said the denial sent a bad signal to the STR Committee and she vowed to bring the agenda item back at the next meeting in July.

However, according to city policy, a failed agenda item can only be put on the agenda by a council member who voted to deny a motion or an item.

“I think that any volunteer group that works as hard as they worked needs to have the support of the council,” said Barchfeld in support of the workshop.

Byrne thanked the committee for their work by drafting a new STR ordinance but added a workshop was not needed.

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