SHORT-TERM RENTALS : A Note From Our President

Dear membership,

In 2014, the Legislature passed SB 356 (Thrasher), which diminished the preemption on short-term rentals. The law allows local governments to adopt ordinances specific to these rentals so that they can address some of the noise, parking, trash and life-safety issues created by their proliferation in residential neighborhoods. Unfortunately, SB 356 left in place existing statutory language stating that cities cannot “prohibit” short-term rentals, or regulate the duration or frequency of the rental.

Our local city ordinance will be grandfathered in even if these two bills pass. The problem is the new legislation will make it easy for the state government to get rid of the grandfathered city ordinances in the future. The city of Clearwater has told us that our current ordinance is already hard to enforce. The next step is to find a way to make sure we can change our current ordinance to become stronger without the state law affecting it or considering it null and void. If these bills pass than it will stop the city from being able to change its current ordinances on short term rentals. With the influx of new hotels we need to make sure they get filled and not our neighborhood with tourists. This is bad business across the board for everybody.  I am urging everyone who receives this message to reach out to everyone on this next committee to share your feeling about these bills and how it will affect your way of life.

Below are two links. The 1st one is the homepage for the Florida Senate. On that page you will see a search toll near the top area where you can pull up a bill by its number or by key words. Also there are tabs that will let you search the various committees and the list of individual senators. You can even track bills (upper right side) that will send you email updates if there is any action on your item.

The 2nd link is directly to the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee page. This is the committee at which SB 188 will be heard on Tuesday.

Remember calls to these committees and emails are needed. The last line of defense if this gets passed through the next committee is Senator Jack Latvala (727) 793-2797. His aid is Richard Reidy who was very helpful and is setting up a meeting with me, city officials and Latvala. Richard  is who you will reach when you call senator Latvala.  It will still be good to let them hear from each and every one of you now.  Richard was the one who said e-mails and calls help give pressure to the situation.  Another senator that must be contacted is Senator Jeff Brandes District Office (727) 563-2100 and Tallahassee Office (850) 487-5024.

There are many personal feelings you may have about this situation and the future of our area. See also attached in this email the longer version and detailed explanation of the growth of short term rentals and its effect on communities and business as well. Some talking points and reminders of this attachment and what happens when short term rentals get out of hand are listed below to help you with your e-mails and calls.

Noise Complaints
In areas where short-term rentals are situated, many neighboring residents complain about the noise generated by the vacationing renters next door. When people go on vacation, often their behavior changes. They may stay awake later, consume more alcoholic beverages throughout the day, or participate in recreational activities that they would not participate in while at their own homes, such as swimming at midnight with music blaring. For those homes located near water, a lake or the ocean, it is important to note that sound travels easily over water – and residents located hundreds of yards away may be the ones calling and complaining to the police and their local elected officials.

The Hotel Next Door – Commercial Activity in Residential Neighborhoods
The constant turnover of renters creates a number of issues for cities and neighboring property owners. Prior to the preemption, local governments were able to regulate this activity through zoning. Short-term rentals have become increasingly popular in the last five years. Because a city cannot “prohibit” these properties, they are powerless to exclude them from residential neighborhoods. As a result, investors, many of whom are located out of state or even in a different country, have purchased or built single-family homes with the sole intent of turning them into short-term rentals. People have moved out of such areas as it has lowered property value and decreased the quality of life for their families.

Samuel Hutkin
Clearwater Beach Association President

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