Baylor seeks to ban short-term rentals near campus

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Baylor is seeking to ban short-term rentals in all multi-family residential properties near campus. The ban would specifically affect apartments, townhouses, condos and lofts.

Short-term rentals are defined as the rental of a residential property for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. Baylor’s request specifically bans “Short Term Rental Type III” properties, which includes multi-family residential properties, private residences that are occasionally rented and full-time rental properties.

The Waco Plan Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss Baylor’s request to amend the city’s short-term rental ordinance within the confines of the College and University Neighborhoods Overlay District.

The university’s request comes after the Plan Commission approved the short-term rental ordinance in late June. According to the city of Waco’s website, the ordinance is intended to allow visitors to rent private residences while ensuring there are no adverse effects for surrounding neighborhoods.

Assistant Vice President for Media Communications Lori Fogleman said Baylor’s concerns are strictly about safety. She said the university has invested significant time and resources to ensure safety and security on and off campus.

“The university has reporting requirements related to crime under the Clery Act and Title IX that most real estate investors or property owners do not have,” Fogleman said.

While popular, short-term rentals through companies like Airbnb can be cause for concern if students in off-campus housing are unaware of who is coming and going next door.

“Baylor is a good community partner, and we appreciate being part of the conversation and finding solutions,” Fogleman said.

The College and University District is a special district within the city of Waco with its own additional layer of regulation for private property development near Baylor. The overlay district was approved by the Waco City Council in 2014.

Beatriz Wharton, senior planner for the city of Waco, said the College and University Neighborhoods District was a city project, not a proposal made by Baylor.

The overlay district comes with restrictions regarding parking and overall development design. Wharton said it essentially serves to make areas around Baylor campus more pedestrian friendly. For example, the standard city ordinance only requires two parking spaces per living unit; under the overlay district ordinance, property near campus is required to have one parking space per bedroom.

The creation of the College and University Neighborhoods District was something the city council pushed for to address traffic and parking and congestion, Wharton said.

If Baylor’s ordinance amendment is passed, Wharton said existing properties that fall into the “Short Term Rental Type III” category will be grandfathered in so long as they continue to follow city regulations.