The Waco City Council discussed its existing ordinances and permitting process for short-term rentals on Tuesday afternoon.
Planning Services Director Clint Peters explained to the council currently 46 listings have obtained special permits to run the vacation rentals with three of them pending council approval.
He added most of these listings have come in the last three to four months.
“I think that is a positive thing for Waco, there is an increase desire for people in Waco and more people coming and visiting,” Peters said.
Last year, Kathy Wise received her permit for her bed and breakfast located in the 1800 block of Washington Avenue.
The Hymnsinger house , which opened in January, used to be an old barn behind the house built in 1896.
“I just couldn't figure out a way to salvage it so I decided to tear it down and build a new building and use the barn wood of the new structure to preserve the story of the property,” Wise said.
Wise said with the help of friends who want part-time work and technology, she runs her business.
“I like hospitality and I think we’ve created a place that is beautiful and restful,” Wise said.
Peters said there are benefits of having short-term rentals, such as bringing financial benefits to the local economy and improving housing conditions in older neighborhoods.
However, Peters said there are some concerns associated with them.
“Impacting neighborhoods. I don’t think we’ve had any specific problems with them, the ones that have been approved have been well maintained and operated well but there are still concerns about these impact neighborhoods long-term,” Peters said.
These are some of the concerns a new advisory committee, which has neighborhood representatives, short term rentals owners, members of the Plan Commission and a Baylor representative, will look into.
The members of that committee will review the existing ordinance and the process residents go through when applying for a permit.
Wise said she obtained her permit last September after applying for it in July. The proposal had to go before the Plan Commission and City Council.
"It was a very quick process once I turn in the paperwork,” Wise said.
However, a newly formed advisory committee, which has neighborhood representatives, owners of vacation rentals, will take a look at the permitting process to see if it needs to be changed. Something some council members asked for it to be reviewed during the work session on Tuesday.
Peters said the permitting process currently takes three months.
"Streamlining the permitting process so you have clear rules on how they're managed and then if t they meet all the rules and they go through a permitting process through city staff and don’t have to go through a public hearing process,” Peters said.
Even though, there are homeowners who have gone through the permitting process to open their short-term rental, Peters said 22 of them are operating without a permit.
In six months, the committee will present the recommendations after reviewing the ordinance to the Plan Commission and city council.
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