PORT ARANSAS, Texas — The idea that short-term rentals in Port Aransas are causing a variety of problems is not a thought held only by the few residents KRIS 6 News spoke with on Wednesday.
Several city officials also agree something needs to be done.
“There are absolutely too many short term rentals, in the City of Port Aransas," said Port Aransas mayor Charles Bujan. "Too many."
He said he, personally, prefers to only have hotels rooms available to out-of-town visitors.
"If I had my way, that would be eliminated," he said Thursday. "They wouldn’t be able to short-term rent anymore over here.”
So if Bujan is the mayor, and he doesn't like the practice, why doesn't he stop it? It's because ordinances are decided by the entire city council, and this particular ordinance pre-dates even his time as mayor.
“Once you allow something to happen it’s grandfathered," he said. "You can’t take it away from them, in the state of Texas. What I would like to see done is that none be allowed at all, from now on.”
Bujan, whose family has been rooted in the area for more than a century, sees the problem as a density issue. He said it also is forcing permanent residents' cost of living to go up.
To illustrate how many people flock to Port Aransas in the summer: for the next six months, AirBNB lists over 300 bookings, with prices ranging from roughly $100 to $600 a night. And that number doesn't take into account the many other companies, such as VRBO and Home to Go, and that also book short-term rentals.
City council member Jo Ellyn Kreuger said short-term rentals are a topic council needs to address. With 75 new units going up off of Paradise Pointe Drive -- located off Hwy. 361, and close to its busy intersection with Ave. G -- she agreed with residents KRIS 6 News spoke to Wednesday. Too many vehicles not being parked in driveways and overwhelming traffic are just some of the problem. She’s also concerned for the city's infrastructure.
Bujan said the city does have the option of cutting off developers, and not allow any more STRs to be built. That’s a decision requiring a majority vote from city council.
But would fewer short-term rentals hurt the economy?
“I can tell you this we have so many visitors over the year," he said. "Five million a year. That’s according to the ferry landing. And that wouldn’t hurt at all.”
KRIS 6 News made several attempts to reach city manager David Parsons, but did not hear back. Bujan, however, confirmed council is discussing action in regards to short-term rental trash and parking, but he said that barely scratches the surface.
A discussion of these rentals will be on the next council meeting agenda on July 15.