🏠 The Wild West of Austin's 15K Airbnbs
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
- 5 min read

🏠 The Wild West of Austin's 15K Airbnbs

Plus, peep where "Friday Night Lights" legend Kyle Chandler lives in the Austin area.


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☀️ Mornin,' Austin.

You know that neighbor that makes a little side cash renting out their place on Airbnb? Well, we break down how that all works here in Austin.

Then, see where Kyle Chandler (AKA everyone's fave Friday Night Lights coach) owns property in the area, and get some tips on how to drive in wet weather (March will be rainy).

When you ain't here for a long time

All our out-of-town, Southby guests have got us thinking about Austin’s robust short-term rental (STR) scene — think Airbnb, Vrbo and the like. So we decided to take a peek at what little data exists for those listings.

(Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Let’s start with a little history lesson. 

  • In 2012, the city of Austin passed its first ordinance requiring a license to operate a short-term rental, although they've struggled with enforcing that requirement.
  • Then in 2016, a new set of more stringent rules was passed. Among other changes, short-term rentals that were not owner-occupied were primarily zoned to commercial areas, while owner-occupied rentals could operate in residential areas. 
  • Then, no surprise, there was a lawsuit. In August, a U.S. district judge issued a ruling that overturned Austin’s 2016 ordinance. As a result, the city can no longer require that STRs in residential zones be owner-occupied.  

So how many short-term rentals exist in Austin? 

Well, that all depends on whether you’re talking about legally-operating, registered STRs or listings on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. 

There are 2,246 registered short-term rental units scattered across the city. 

The two ZIP codes with the highest number of registered STRs are: 

  • 78704 — which stretches between Lady Bird Lake on the south, Highway 71 on the north, I-35 on the east and Barton Creek on the west. It has 486 registered units. 
  • 78702 — which is bordered by Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd on the north, Lady Bird Lake on the south, I-35 on the west and Airport Blvd on the east. It houses 411 registered units. 

But how many unregistered units are there?

Well, on Airbnb alone there are roughly 15,419, according to Inside Airbnb data provided by Stephanie Ashworth, co-founder of the Austin-based Texas Neighborhoods Coalition, at a Tourism Commission meeting in January. 

So it’s safe to say that the map above isn’t the full picture. 

What’s being done about unregistered short-term rental units? 

In February, the Tourism Commission gave City Council 10 recommendations for addressing problems with Austin’s growing short-term rental market. 

The recommendations included:

  • Require more information from STR licenses holders to help maintain a citywide database
  • Streamline the licensing process by simplifying applications
  • Focus on underreported Hotel Occupancy Taxes
  • And push platforms like Airbnb to delist noncompliant property listings while also holding the platforms responsible for aiding noncompliant listings

Now, it’s up to the City Council to decide how to move forward with the recommendations. 

Cat DeLaura, Reporter

Temperature: 73 degrees | Sun: Slay all day | What to Expect: Feeling like March

Today's gorgeous spring weather is one of the many reasons we love to call Austin home. Where can you beat sunny and 70 right now?

Mary’s Tip: Treat yo-self. Take a stroll up and down SoCo and do some shopping.

🚗 Driving in the rain 101

Driving in Austin on any given day already has its traffic challenges — just ask self-described “pro-gridlock activist” and snark master @EvilMoPacATX.

But add heavy rainfall or severe weather to the mix, and it's next level. Here are 4 practical tips for driving in wet weather:  

  1. See and be seen. Turn on your headlights and make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order. 
  2. Slow down, avoid braking hard and don't turn sharply. This can reduce the possibility of hydroplaning. If you can, drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you.
  3. Do not use cruise control. Slippery roads can affect your car's ability to maintain a constant vehicle speed.
  4. Do not panic if you start to skid. Take your foot off the accelerator, and continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go. Brake gently, and if you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the brakes — apply steady pressure and expect the brakes to pulse.

@EvilMoPacATX will no doubt have plenty to say in the next few months as severe weather season in Central Texas continues through May.

— Mary Wasson, Meteorologist

Clear Hill Country skies, full bathrooms, can't lose

Football season may be in our rear-view mirror, but with all five seasons of the critically acclaimed, Austin-shot TV show Friday Night Lights available to stream year-round, no time like the present to break down Coach Taylor's Austin-area ties.

Records show that Kyle Chandler and his wife paid an unspecified amount in 2008 to buy a 33.3-acre property near Dripping Springs. 

Built in 2010, the main house is 3,269 square feet, reachable by a long driveway. The property also includes a barn, a swimming pool, a shed and a pond, according to the Hays County assessor's office, which lists the appraised value of the property at $3.52 million. 

Conspicuously absent from his plot of land, however? A football field.

(Bill Records/NBC/NBCU Photo Ban/Getty Images)

Earlier in his career, Chandler owned a town home in Chicago before selling it at the end of 2000 for $590,000. He also had owned a place near Los Angeles. Chandler’s last home in California was a three-bedroom, 2,245-square-foot house in Topanga, which he sold in 2009 for $1.27 million.

Since shortly after FNL debuted in 2006, however, he and his family have been based outside of Austin, on the sprawling piece of property southeast of Dripping Springs.

— Bob Goldsborough, Contributing Reporter

Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura, Mary Wasson and Bob Goldsborough.