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Plano should look to Frisco in crafting short-term rental policy

Plano is at a crossroads regarding short-term rentals. Since police busted a sex-ring this fall in a short-term rental home, some Plano residents have called for an outright ban on short-term rental companies such as Airbnb.

Plano should take a more measured approach. Short-term rentals have become permanent fixtures in the world of hospitality, and they allow many homeowners to supplement their income while drawing tourist dollars to city coffers. Plano needs to be sensitive to those economic realities and opt for regulation over a ban.

There are problem properties, but we question the attempt to paint all short-term rentals with a broad brush. For example, Plano city staff pointed out earlier this year that the city logged 1,428 noise complaints between January and May of this year, with only 23 of those linked to homes known to be short-term rental properties.

A group of Plano residents wants the city to enact an immediate moratorium on all short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods within 60 days. This group advocates for using an existing ordinance to prevent short-term rentals in single-family areas. But attorneys have advised the city that municipal attempts to ban short-term rentals have flailed in Texas courts, KERA reported.

A Plano city spokesman told us the city is developing an ordinance that will outline a registration and inspection program. The City Council is expected to review the ordinance in mid-November.

Frisco showed us how to approach short-term rental regulation sensibly. Last year, its City Council passed an ordinance that requires owners to register and pay hotel taxes. The ordinance also requires that each property have a 24-hour contact person and prohibits renting to people younger than 21. The ordinance did not restrict short-term rentals based on zoning districts, but it did create a process to revoke the permits of bad operators.

Frisco also created an online platform and a 24-hour hotline that enables residents to report property violations.

City officials must listen to residents’ concerns about crime, but a ban is an extreme solution. Plano should come up with a policy that balances public safety with the rights of property owners. We know it can be done, and Plano doesn’t have to look far for an example.

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