After a tense Tuesday work session and a couple of hours of inconclusive Thursday debate, City Council voted 5-2 last week to "postpone final action" on any ordinance addressing short-term rentals until the City Auditor can complete a citywide review of STRs. The resolution, sponsored by Council Members Bill Spelman and Chris Riley, initially directed the city manager to "temporarily suspend" the process of revising regulations on short-term rentals currently pending before the Planning Commission. Some neighborhood associations (and the Austin Neighborhoods Council) want to prohibit any commercial (non-resident-owned) short-term rentals in residential districts, and the Board of Adjustment has declared such uses illegal – triggering a lawsuit against the city. Spelman argued that council needs better information on the extent of the problem (if any); Council Member Kathie Tovo insisted that it's time to act and tried to whittle any audit to one or two neighborhoods and no more than 60 days but was joined only by Council Member Laura Morrison. The Planning Commission will take up the matter Jan. 24, but council will wait for City Auditor Kenneth Mory's report, expected in late March or early April.
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