Pearland - Friendswood Edition | May 2022

being used as a short-term rental on Verona Drive in east Pearland. Some concerns by the residents in the subdivision range from parking disturbances, like blocking neighbors’ driveways, to parties and recording video shoots on the property. “We have been held hostage [for] more than three years,” said Randy Bailey, a neighbor of the Verona Drive property, at the April 11 meeting. William Wiatrak, the owner of the Verona Drive property, said the accu- sations made against him and the property are false. “They are using me as a poster boy,” he said. While the Verona Drive house is rented out on Airbnb with various themed rooms, like a jail and Egyp- tian room, Wiatrak said the com- plaints from neighbors stem from renting out the property on a differ- ent platform: Peerspace. Peerspace allows people to book spaces for events and productions, according to the platform’s website. Wiatrak was renting out the property for certain time windows to artists, who shot music videos at his house, which began the conflict, he said. He denied renting out his house for parties and he said he has stopped

are located and how guests choos- ing short-term rentals for visits are affected, Rohrbacher said. Pearland expects to collect $98,406 to $246,015 from the 7% hotel occu- pancy tax, assuming the average daily rate for a rental is $142 and that they are occupied for at least 180 days of the year, according to city officials. In the past five fiscal years, Pearland collected between $994,018 to $1.6 million per year in hotel occu- pancy tax revenue, according to data provided by the PCVB. Based on Pearland’s projected collections of hotel tax revenue from short-term rentals, the city could collect an addi- tional 7.94% to 19.84% of revenue in tax compared to the 1.24 million in revenue collected on hotel occupancy taxes in FY 2021, which ended on Sept. 30, 2021. “This is in competition with the hotel people, so anything that they have that are penalties for them or things that they have to do in the hotels, I think it should be the same with a short-term rental,” Council Member Woody Owens said.

renting out the property for videos. Throughout the crafting of the ordinance, several members on City Council referenced the property as reasons for the need of a regulation on short-term rentals. The ordinance requires any short-term rental in the city to be rented out for a minimum of 24 hours. While the ordinance passed by City Council does not stop Wiatrak from renting out his property as an Airbnb, he said he is discouraged from con- tinuing to operate it with the regula- tions in place because of how much he has been targeted. There have been other concerns raised on the specific regulations beyond one property. Council Mem- ber Luke Orlando, who voted against the ordinance during both the first and second readings, said the regulations could hurt residents who seek to make additional income from their homes. Council Member Adrian Hernan- dez also voted against the ordinance during the second reading because the ad hoc committee created to bring suggestions on regulations lacked input from short-term rental owners, he said. “Fundamentally, I think this is tak- ing a sledgehammer to an issue that

requires a scalpel,” Orlando said. Tax to operate Once the ordinance goes into effect July 1, Pearland will use an online software platform, LODGINGRevs, to identify properties that have an active permit to operate a short-term rental location. Through LODGINGRevs, Pearland will see properties with an active short-term rental listing on sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. If a property does not have a permit, the owner will be given a chance to get one, and if they do not, then a case could be filed with the Pearland Municipal Court and lead to fines up to $500, Rohrbacher said. While the effects the regulations will have are unclear, the permit pro- cess will allow the city to understand where short-term rental properties “THIS IS GOING TOBE IMPERFECT. …WE ARE HAVING TO EVOLVE WITH SOCIETY.” ALEX KAMKAR, COUNCIL MEMBER

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