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STRs, ADUs and TNCs: A Guide to Three of City Council's Oft-Abbreviated Agenda Items

KUT News
Council will take up issues related to short-term rentals, accessory dwelling units and transportation networking companies at today's meeting.

The Austin City Council today will tackle rules on transportation network companies, short-term rentals and so-called accessory dwelling units.

These decisions have been a long time coming, because, at least in the case of short-term rental rules, postponements have been rampant.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo delayed action on a short-term rental moratorium back in August, then again in September, and then again last week.

That brings us to today. An easy way to think about these regulations is by their acronyms: STR, ADU and TNC.


First up, STRs. Those are rental properties on sites like Homeaway and AirBnB. Council first passed an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in 2012 – initially dividing the properties into Type 1 and Type 2 rentals, and eschewing the three-tiered classification now in effect. Council will look to prohibit short-term rental owners from hosting parties, such as corporate events or weddings. They’ll also vote on several ordinances to limit the number of Type 2 STRs, or non-owner-occupied rentals.


Then, we’ve got ADUs. These are things like backyard housing units or garage apartments. The City will take a final vote on new regulations regarding impervious cover and parking requirements for these rentals. Tovo will also ask Council to prohibit ADU owners who built after Oct. 1 from using their second dwelling as an STR.


Lastly, we’ve got TNCs. These are the app-based, ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft. The Council’s been tangling with these sorts of providers since 2013 – when companies like SideCar and HeyRide were the targets of council scrutiny and TNCs were called “gypsy cabs.”

The Council will consider making these companies adhere to other taxicab company rules, including fees and fingerprint-based background checks for drivers. After tomorrow’s action, most of these regulations will be put to bed, at least in a policy sense. City staff will write ordinances for TNCs and STRs, and these will head back to Council for a vote — but it’s still not clear when they’ll finally pass.

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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