Wimberley rental committee on the clock

Time is running out for the short-term rental (STR) committee in Wimberley as city leaders dispute the future of the controversial body. 

At the July 18 city council meeting, Mayor Susan Jaggers and Councilmember Gary Barchfeld adamantly defended the committee, citing that the council should host a workshop or extend the work of the committee, which will end Aug. 1.

The call for action is in light of a decision in June where the council voted in a split 3-2 vote to reject hosting a workshop with the committee. 

“It’s my understanding that they would like some direction one way or the other; either terminate them or extend them,” Barchfeld said. “But the knowledge they have garnered over the past year is extensive and I think it’s important that they share it with not only the council but the entire community.”

But the work of the STR Committee has been heavily contested by residents and elected officials alike. The committee was formed in July 2018 to revise the city’s STR ordinance to bring noncompliant operations into compliance. 

In March, the committee estimated some 200 STRs in the city were out of compliance with the city’s ordinance. However, in late April, it was reported that the city only had 15 STRs out of compliance, a stark contrast to the original estimate.

Critics of the committee pointed out that the committee spent more than $6,000 to rework the ordinance and solve an issue that does not exist. 

At the July 18 meeting, Jaggers said she would bring an item to the table relating to the STR Committee Aug. 1, which is the same day the committee’s time runs out. 

The STR Committee declined appearing before council for a presentation, where the members would be limited to a 10-minute presentation, according to a letter to the city council. 

“And after a year’s worth of work, they felt they needed a bit more time and a comprehensive visit with both Planning & Zoning and this council so they respectfully declined,” Barchfeld said.

Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Minnick, Councilmember Christine Byrne and Councilmember Bo Bowman previously voted to deny a workshop with the STR Committee.

At previous workshops and meetings, Minnick has scrutinized the work of the committee, sharing the sentiment of residents on the committee. 

At a June meeting, Minnick said the committee already completed the ordinance and the job was complete, so a workshop was not necessary.

Additionally, the 15 STRs found out of compliance compared to 200 that was originally predicted caused some heartburn for local leaders. 

“We have budget workshops, parliamentary workshops and a sewer we need to get online – a lot is stacking up,” Minnick said in June. “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.” 

Time is ticking for the STR Committee, as its members sit in limbo for an Aug. 1 decision on the fate of the committee. 

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