Proposed regulations could make short-term rentals legal in San Marcos

The short-term rental recommendations will go to city council in July. (KXAN photo)
San Marcos city council to decide on short-term rental ordinance. (KXAN photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — If you want to rent a home for the weekend in the historic neighborhoods of San Marcos or by the river, you may soon have more options. As it is now, it’s technically illegal to rent out a room in the city through popular sites like AirBnB, but regulations passed through San Marcos Planning and Zoning Tuesday night could change it all.

The recommendation by planning and zoning restricts people from owning more than one property used as a short-term rental. If passed, the city would also grant permits for property owners who do not live on the property and rent to visitors on a short-term basis.

“We look at this and we realize that the goal is that short-term rentals in San Marcos are safe, quiet and that they are good neighbors, and we are 110 percent behind that,” said short-term rental property owner Carl Furry.

For those who rent their property, they say it allows visitors to live like locals. “You’re in a neighborhood environment that feels comfortable and it’s sort of a home away from home type of feeling,” said Furry.

He opened his doors to strangers through the AirBnB site 10 months ago. “It’s been much more successful than we ever dreamed,” Furry said.

The city of San Marcos has been looking to regulate short-term rental properties for months. The proposed regulations made on Tuesday will help make the business of short-term rentals legal.

“The more that San Martians in general learn about short-term rentals and understand that, the better off that the city will be, we think,” said Furry.

To him, having a short-term rental means more than the extra income, it brings tourists to parts of the city they may not have explored if they stayed in a hotel.

“You place families and host families and adult tourists, couples and small families in downtown areas and neighborhood area short-term rentals, you’re helping bring their money to downtown,” said Furry. “That helps create incentives for businesses to server that community, to serve those customers.”

“I think they are a tremendous asset to our community and our historic districts and to our historic downtown,” said San Marcos resident Sue Cohen.

Cohen doesn’t own a short-term rental property herself, but says she sees the positives.

“I believe that what makes the community attractive to tourists is a variety of options for housing and eating and I think this adds another option to our playbook for visitors. This isn’t for everybody, just like a hotel on the freeway isn’t for everybody. So, we have a lot of variety which makes us more attractive to visitors,” said Cohen.

The San Marcos City Council will still have to approve the recommendations by planning and zoning. The item will go in front of council on July 18.

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