WATCH: Neighbors Nix AirBNB at Lake Nasworthy
SAN ANGELO, TX – A group of disgruntled neighbors crowded the public comment section of the San Angelo City Council Meeting on Tuesday to voice their opposition to plans for a short-term rental home on Lake Nasworthy.
In the video posted on June 6, 2023, viewers can witness the discussion regarding the potential approval of an Airbnb at 3221 Red Bluff Road West. During the discussion, several neighbors expressed their concerns, arguing that the proposed rental home would not only be a bad idea but also compromise the safety of the quiet cul-de-sac.
The two neighbors who raised the most significant concerns were the ones living on either side of the property. Donna Ferguson, a woman residing nearby, claimed that the home had been previously rented out. She described sleepless nights filled with loud music, parties, and the smell of smoke emanating from a fire pit. She even recalled an incident where a renter was allegedly firing a potato gun, which she feared might have been an actual weapon.
The neighbor on the other side voiced concerns about vagabonds entering the neighborhood, posing a threat to his family and children. "Anyone who claims they would be okay with a short-term rental next door is either lying or hasn't experienced it," said David Gossett, the other neighbor. "I've had terrible experiences. I don't want to relive those. If it happens again, it will only lead to more problems."
The property owners also provided their comments. As three property owners and business partners, they had already invested money to convert the home into a short-term rental. They informed the council that they had spoken to the neighbors and, in fact, moved into a separate home on the same block to be readily available to address any complaints about disruptive guests.
In an effort to address the complaints, the owners proposed the installation of a private fence between neighboring properties and the construction of additional parking spaces to mitigate parking issues.
Despite their efforts, the short-term rental faced an inevitable defeat following a comment made by Mayor Gunter before the vote.
"I have a legal question for Theresa," Mayor Gunter began. "There is a short-term rental request in my neighborhood, which I oppose. Am I allowed to express my opinion or vote on this matter today?"
It was clear that the answer was affirmative, as short-term rental approvals are considered on a case-by-case basis.
However, one council member sided with the property owners and essentially conveyed to the complainants that this issue extended beyond their concerns. Council member Lucy Gonzales shared her own experiences of staying at Airbnbs, mentioning the list of rules and regulations provided by hosts. She also believed that the property owners were doing their best to accommodate the neighbors.
"It's no different than when I'm at home and my neighbor throws a party. They are loud, their cars line the road, and the amount of trash becomes overwhelming. It's not limited to short-term rentals; it happens all over town, and there's little we can do about it," said Council Member Gonzales. "All I'm saying is that I support this approval because I want people from out of town to come and enjoy our lake. I can assure you that most of the time, it's not about these big parties. It's often families of three, four, or six who just want to enjoy a weekend. That's what I believe."
Despite Gonzales' attempt to persuade the rest of the council, the motion was ultimately denied with a 6-1 vote, with Gonzales being the sole supporter.
Presently, there are over five Airbnbs available on Lake Nasworthy, with prices ranging from $300 to $500 per day.