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The Lead Aug. 4, 2022: Can Kerrville slow down short-term rentals?

That's part of the conversation during today's planning and zoning meeting.

Good morning, Kerr County!

It allegedly hit 100 degrees on Wednesday, but there's some good news in the forecast. This could be the last of 100 degrees for a bit, and it looks like there's a slight chance of rain next Tuesday. However, it's not going to be enough to do much. The drought situation continues to concern the National Weather Service — who isn't concerned? Here is a look at their latest tweet about the drought:

See @NWSWGRFC's post on Twitter.

On today's The Lead Live!

We're joined by Century 21 The Hills Realty's John Sawyer, who will discuss a new downtown housing development along Water Street. Texas Hill Country Advisors Andrew Gay updates on the financial markets, while Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau's Julie Davis tells us about events coming our way.

Speaking of events

Today's events!


Science and Nature

  • Nature Nights — Riverside Nature Center, 6 p.m. Information: 830-257-4837 The details: Artifacts: Trash to Treasure

Live music

  • Brent Ryan — Southern Sky Music Cafe, 7 p.m., Information:
  • Jake Asbury — Joanne Marie and Me Wine Boutique, 6 p.m. Information:
  • Open Mic Night — Gravity Check Saloon and Arena, 6-10 p.m. Information:

Friday, Aug. 5

Science and Nature

  • 1-on-1 with a naturalist — Riverside Nature Center, 10 a.m. Information: The details: Naturalist, author, and columnist Jim Stanley and Texas Master Naturalist and native plant enthusiast John Hucksteadt will be available to meet one-on-one to answer questions, and discuss various topics, or listen to ideas about nature.

Performing arts

  • "Matilda" — Hill Country Arts Foundation Point Theater, Ingram, 8:30 p.m. Information: The details: Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. Unloved by her cruel parents, Matilda impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. During her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey profoundly affect each other's lives, as Miss Honey begins recognizing and appreciating Matilda's extraordinary personality.

Live music


  • The Lion King — Louise Hayes Park, 9 p.m. Information: The details: This appears to be the remade version of it versus the classic cartoon that featured one of the greatest villainous performances in Disney history — Jeremy Irons as Scar.


  • Learn to Belly Dance — Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, 6 p.m. Information: The Cheeky Peacocks Dance Company The details: Bring a yoga mat, a bottle of water and a friend! The class is $10.


  • Kerrville Business Expo — Hill Country Youth Event Center, 5:15 p.m. Information: The details: Sponsored by the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, there are more than 100 booths for people to interact and network with businesses, organizations and members of the Kerrville community.

Stories we're following

Austin-based provocateur Alex Jones runs into some problems

If you've been following the case of Alex Jones, the bombastic head of Infowars, who is being sued by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School children killed in a mass shooting, you were in for a wild day on Wednesday. That's when the attorney of the parents disclosed he had two years' worth of Jones' emails and text messages that Jones' attorneys accidentally turned over. Jones is now in plenty of trouble with a judge, who has already scolded him. Here's the Texas Tribune's story:

And here's the moment when Jones faced the emails and texts:

See @briantylercohen's post on Twitter.

Texas GOP leaders dismiss Kansas abortion results

On Wednesday, Kansas voters decisively turned back an effort to remove abortion protections from the state's constitution. It was a big story because Kansas is a reliably conservative state and because there was a gigantic turnout in a summer mid-term primary election. However, Texas GOP leaders said the decision would have no effect on the results here for the mid-term — they're probably right. Here's the story:

A day of mourning in baseball

For all of us longtime sports fans, Wednesday's passing of legendary Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, 94, was a hard one — he was the voice of so many moments. As a third-generation Dodgers fan, I remember being taught to revere him by my mother, father, grandmother and grandfather. I remember going to Dodgers games and the fans all fixated on their transistor radios so they could listen to Scully call the game. But what made Scully so remarkable, something my dad always commented on, was his enthusiasm for the game — no matter the team or player. In 1981, Scully called Houston Astros Nolan Ryan's record-breaking fifth no-hitter, snapping the record of Dodgers great Sandy Koufax. However, Koufax was almost gleeful as Ryan worked to get the last out (against current Astros manager Dusty Baker).

"Yeah, we're all with you Nolie," Scully said of Ryan. "Huffing and puffing now."

When Baker grounded out, Scully celebrated the historic moment.

"Breaking ball. Grounder to third. He's got it!"

This video is of terrible quality, but you can still understand the moment.

Scully not only called baseball, including 67 years as the Dodgers play-by-play announcer, he called many of the biggest moments in sports, including the 1981 NFC Championship Game that broke the heart of Dallas Cowboys fans.

But his most famous call may have been when the Atlanta Braves Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run to break Babe Ruth's record.

Analysis: Why short-term rental decisions will probably not make anyone happy

Exactly how this short-term rental conversation plays out today when the Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 4 p.m. isn't likely to satisfy everyone.

We don't want to sound pessimistic here, but the city of Kerrville is genuinely stuck. In a difference of opinion that scrambles partisan lines, the city seems like it's in a position to get itself sued, and many cities in Texas are probably in the same place.

For those who haven't paid attention to the short-term rental debate, it's simple — property rights vs. property rights. Or, as Judge Pat Pattillo put it, your property rights can't negate my property rights. Here's what's facing P&Z today:

  • Approving short-term rentals only in residential neighborhoods, known as R-1 zoning, with an accessory unit — think granny flat or something like it. Those approvals also require a conditional-use permit, a license and an annual inspection. Those short-term rentals would also be limited to every 250 feet.
  • Approving by right short-term rentals in zones for mixed-use, high density, residential transition and the Downtown Arts and Cultural District.
  • One parking space per bedroom plus one for an off-site manager.
  • No signs are permitted for or related to the short-term rental.

And the two sticking points will be this: accessory units and the 250 feet of space between rentals in the residential zone, R-1. These limitations are likely problematic if you have neighboring property owners who meet the requirement of an "accessory unit."

On the flip side, you'll still have community members who don't want short-term rentals under any circumstances. There are two arguments that I think are important here from neighbors:

  • Why does your business get to affect my property value and quality of life?
  • And the ability of residents to maintain the integrity of their neighborhoods.

There have been some pretty big assumptions in the debate:

  • All short-term renters are party animals who make neighborhoods unsafe.
  • All long-term renters are slobs who make the neighborhoods unsafe.

Take your pick on who said what above.

However, there is a reckoning coming on this issue — one likely decided by the courts. Despite the assurances of groups like the Texas Neighborhood Coalition, which points to successful bans in Arlington and elsewhere, there are just as many cases where conservative courts have sided with short-term rental owners. The argument about deed restrictions seems to have been dismantled by the Texas Supreme Court in at least two decisions.

In a February 2022 case, the Court upheld this argument from a short-term rental owner: "Rental income does not violate the prohibition on commercial use because it is residential occupation that generates the income, not commercial activity on the property."

How will this go for Kerrville? Expect no one to be pleased, and this debate is just getting started because still to come is when those short-term rentals start taking hold in the county — where there are no rules.

With school less than two weeks away

The Kerrville Independent School District sent parents a letter about their safety plan for the 2022-2023 school year; the district detailed 26 plans that will be complete by Aug. 15 — the first day of school.

The biggest one, of course, is the addition of two Kerrville Police Department Officers to patrol the district's four elementary campuses. Unlike previous years, KISD is shouldering a considerable amount of the expense for the new positions, including pay, equipment and other expenses.

District Superintendent Mark Foust said staff would continue to improve anti-bullying programs, offer mental health services through telemedicine, explore using the school marshal program and other "hardening" of school facilities.

This comes after a teenage shooter entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killed 19 children and two teachers, and wound 17 others. Some KISD parents have actively sought the marshal program, which arms select district staff, but that program takes months to implement.


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