Hotline tracks complaints regarding STR properties




Laura Marquardt, city short-term rental and code enforcement officer, sits at her desk on Thursday, Sept. 7. Among other things, Marquardt checks on short-term rental complaints that come in through a hotline to ensure they are resolved. The City of Port Aransas’ short-term rental hotline has been in place more than a year, and city staff say it’s working. Staff photo by Kathryn Cargo

Laura Marquardt, city short-term rental and code enforcement officer, sits at her desk on Thursday, Sept. 7. Among other things, Marquardt checks on short-term rental complaints that come in through a hotline to ensure they are resolved. The City of Port Aransas’ short-term rental hotline has been in place more than a year, and city staff say it’s working. Staff photo by Kathryn Cargo

The City of Port Aransas’ short-term rental hotline has been in place more than a year, and city staff say its working.

The hotline, (361) 333-5659, went live in June 2022. Since, there were 77 complaints in 2022 and 61 complaints this year, said Laura Marquardt, city short-term rental specialist and code enforcement officer.

“I would say that for what it is, the hotline is working really well. When we get a call that’s actually a violation, the process is working well with that,” said Nicole Boyer, city planning and zoning assistant. “A lot of the calls that we get aren’t violations, they’re just annoyances.”

The hotline was established by Gov OS, a firm that is under contract with the city to provide services related to short-term rentals.

When Gov OS representatives receive a complaint through the hotline, they will reach out to the emergency contact on file for the property, Marquardt said. The responsible party then has 60 minutes to resolve the issue.

Short-term rentals are seen along 11th Street in Port Aransas in an aerial photo taken earlier this year. The City of Port Aransas’ short-term rental hotline has been online since June 2022. Since then, there have been 138 reported complaints. Staff photo by Dan Parker

Short-term rentals are seen along 11th Street in Port Aransas in an aerial photo taken earlier this year. The City of Port Aransas’ short-term rental hotline has been online since June 2022. Since then, there have been 138 reported complaints. Staff photo by Dan Parker

If the issue is not resolved, Marquardt will follow up with the issue herself.

“Usually, it’s like noise complaints or parking, and it’s all at night,” she said. “And so the next morning, I’ll be able to listen to the recordings. And I will go out there myself to see if the issue has been resolved. And if it’s not, then that’s when I start contacting the property management company, the homeowner, saying, ‘Hey, you need to take care of this.’”

If the issue is never resolved, the city can issue a citation for the violation, Boyer said. The city can also issue a citation if the issue is not resolved within an hour. As well as a citation, the city can give the rental property a strike. Per ordinance, if a property receives three strikes, its short-term rental license can be revoked.

The city has issued “one or two” citations and has not revoked any short-term rental licenses.

More than one-third of the complaints received are for issues that are not violations, such as vehicles parking on the street, Boyer said.

Sometimes there are reoccurring issues such as the trash cans being out on the road longer than they should at short-term rentals.

The hotline helps after-hours when City Hall is closed, Boyer said.

“It does a really good job of tracking complaints. And we can see who’s calling in the complaints all the time. If it’s the same person calling in multiple complaints, If it’s the same property that’s getting complaint after complaint, it helps us to track it better.” Vivian Carlson, staff writer for the South Jetty, called the hotline twice in July. Someone staying in the short-term rental near her house on knocked over her mailbox with a vehicle two different times.

She also reported to the hotline that there were several cars parked on the street, and the trash cans for the short-term rental were always out on the road.

After she called the hotline the second time, she contacted the city and spoke to a code enforcement officer. The city employee told her the city reaches out to the property management company when complaints are received.

“How does that solve anything? Because nothing is happening,” Carlson said. “I’ve made several complaints, and there hasn’t been any movement.”

Contact Kathryn Cargo at reporter@portasouthjetty.com.

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