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Mayor, HomeAway CEO Want to Stop Talking About Short-Term Rentals

Their reasons, as you might guess, are very different

On the heels of Mayor Steve Adler's "State of the City" address at Zach Theatre last night, HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples is pushing back on the city's ponderous short-term-rental battles.

Adler's speech in large part addressed some of the "big things" he has vowed to push forward at the city, the Austin-American Statesman reports, but he expressed frustration with what he called the "three-letter emergencies"—short-term rentals (STRs, often rented through AirBnB and other national companies), transportation network companies (TNRs, which includes companies like Uber and Lyft), and accessory dwelling units (ADUs, or garage apartments, which homeowners have been prohibited from building under some rules).

Adler said that amount of time the city has spent discussing these issues—which is considerable—has gotten in the way of bigger issues our fast-growing city needs to address (affordability and mobility being two big ones), the Statesman reports.

In a letter to the Austin Business Journal published today, Sharples, who runs Austin-based vacation rental company HomeAway, seems to agree with Adler on one point: the "tedious nomenclature" surrounding the conversation, such as designating different types of rentals as "STR-1," "STR-2," and "STR-3."

Unsurprisingly, Sharples point of view departs from the mayor's significantly. While the "Type 2" short-term rentals—ones that are in residentially zoned areas, are not owner-occupied, and are often booked or managed through large companies like HomeAway—get the most scrutiny, he maintains, banning them would affect mostly individual homeowners who want to leave town and rent their homes out on a temporary basis.

Sharples also invoked property rights, who some deem sacred in Texas, and expressed that he was "unpleasantly surprised" that council plans to reopen the "divisive issue" this week.