North Texas sex trafficking ring bust adds to growing frustration over short-term rentals

(WTVG)
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 8:24 PM CDT
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PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) Anger is mounting over short-term rentals in North Texas with a recent Dallas Police Department-led raid in Plano adding fuel to the growing debate.

“Yeah... didn’t like it,” shares Glenn Story of Plano who watched nearby as police surrounded a home in his normally quiet neighborhood.  “I thought it was a hostage situation. I did not like it.”

Dallas police now say they were breaking up a sex trafficking ring Thursday evening. That raid took on added significance as word spread that the ring was operating out of a short-term rental.

“I have a five-year-old daughter!” shares a fuming Joni Reed.  “The fact that a sex trafficking ring is right around the corner from me is not only scary and terrifying, it makes me realize that we’ve become a community of bystanders.”

So, Reed has had enough. She’s vowing to pack the next Plano City Council meeting with homeowners who want to see action on the issue.  “I can guarantee you that if one of the city council members lived next door you would not be having this problem.”

Other homeowners are eager to add their voices to the debate as well.

“Hotels are explicitly banned in the Plano city ordinance,” says Bill France, who also works to organize Plano neighbors with the Texas Neighborhood Coalition.

France says the city collects hotel occupancy taxes from the short-term rentals and he sees that as a clear conflict. “So, you can’t have it both ways,” says France.

Plano is not alone in navigating anger over STRs in neighborhoods. Signs saying “Homes not Hotels” are going up across North Texas.

“The city of Dallas needs to get STRs zoned out of residential areas. Period.”  Olive Talley of Dallas doesn’t mince words.  She’s been engaged in the fight against short-term rentals for years. “We do not allow Marriotts and Hiltons to just spring up in our neighborhoods... why should we allow STRs to do that?”

Talley says a critical plan commission subcommittee hearing is coming up next month.  It’s the next step she says to force the city to not just tax short term rentals like hotels, but to regulate them like the commercial businesses that they are.

“Neighborhoods are about community,” insists Talley.  “We want neighbors...not a constant stream of strangers who bring crime and mayhem and disruption into our neighborhoods.”

And Joni Reed agrees.

“People are starting to get angry,” says Reed, “and when there’s anger, there’s change.”

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