Commentary: Flagler County’s STEALTHY Short-term Vacation Rental Ordinance Draft

Stakeholders received only five day’s notice of this overreaching draft ordinance. Any ordinance that starts out with more than ten ‘Whereas’ paragraphs is a stretch. This sucker has 68 of them.

Palm Coast, FL – October 28, 2014 – In an unexpected move, Flagler County scheduled a Special Meeting of its Planning & Development Board to convene at 6:00 P.M., October 29th. The sole purpose of the meeting is to consider a staff-recommended draft ordinance to govern short-term vacation rentals in the county. That ordinance is deeply flawed.

Two questions came to mind immediately.

First, why the rush?
I understand that the P&D Board’s role is to review the ordinance and recommend to the Board of County Commissioners; either recommending for or against BOCC approval. The final decision rests with the BOCC. The P&D Board has a regularly scheduled meeting on November 12th, only a few weeks away. The regularly scheduled November 12th meeting is after Election Day. The special meeting is not? Coincidence?

Second, why the secrecy?
Five years ago, the developer at Hammock Beach attempted to gain approval for significant additional density for the area surrounding the existing resort. The developer was represented by Front Door. Salamander was not yet in the picture. Frond Door did almost everything wrong.

  • Their application was a huge overreach.
  • They developed their plans in secrecy, apparently keeping details on a “need to know” basis.
  • They did not involve stakeholders in the planning phase.

Contrast this approach to the open, inclusive and collaborative approach used recently when Salamander brought forth revised plans to replace the present Hammock Beach Club lodge building. Whether you are for or against Salamander’s proposed project, you must agree that their strategy was more effective than that employed by Front Door five years ago.

I have no dog in this hunt. I have talked to and understand the concerns of both sides. This is a solution that should achieve a fair balance between the needs of the community with those of individual property owners. I find it striking that the county chose to follow the Front Door strategy.

Those on the “needs of the community” side have a right to their concerns, as do the private property owners. After all, neither side created the problem. The problem was created legislatively. The proposed ordinance properly addresses some real issues, but on the whole, seems outrageously one sided; so one sided that it is certain to attract litigation.

The goal of this ordinance should be to codify a balance between competing but legal interests. That goal cannot be accomplished in the dark. It demands openness and the collaboration of stakeholders on both sides of the issue.

Read the agenda and draft ordinance by clicking here.

11 replies
  1. David
    David says:

    Back Room Deal

    This feels an awful lot like a back room deal struck between the “Local Short Term Rental Agents” and the “other interested parties” including those wanting no rentals at all. Both benefit from creating this arbitrary bureaucracy that hurts those of us who spend 10 -12 weeks a year at our second homes in Palm Coast. We rent intermittently in order to help offset costs to maintain our homes. With this back room deal folks like us with just one home to rent will be burdened with onerous administrative tasks, applications and demand searches that can only be managed by a local “rental agent”. Two hours notice for an inspection! “Come on man”

    Our option will be to not rent, denying local businesses of tens of thousands of tourist dollars that the county claims it is trying to encourage.

  2. Maryjoe
    Maryjoe says:

    This proposal

    If I wanted to live in a homeowners association I would have purchased inside of one. What a friggin’ money making scheme this is. Fines, permits, inspections, penalties, etc. Agents available 24 hrs a day? Give it up already.
    I’m telling ya, I’m starting to really dislike this county more and more.
    And that’s a real shame.

  3. Richard
    Richard says:

    Excellent article as usual

    An excellent article. 95% of what is proposed is sensible or, at least, not unreasonable. 5% seems designed to discourage buyers who may wish to consider renting out for part of each year. It’s a shame as we are keen on Hammock Beach, the Yacht club and various other areas but we now know to look elsewhere and thank you for the warning.

  4. Ronald J. Boyce
    Ronald J. Boyce says:

    Big Secret?


    Are you that clueless? This has been the top priority of the county for the past two years. County staff has been available to all parties. But why would the vacation industry want to talk? They had it all after taking home rule from the local governments and the residents of Florida after they crafted and created a one sided house bill with their supporters without once taking with local officials or the residents in those communities. I am sure you heard of house bill 883.

    Now fast forward to Senate bill 354 a bill that gave back some control to local governments. Which was fought by the same vacation management that crafted house bill 883. Is it not the job of our local government to listen to their constituents? The answer is yes. If you are implying that the vacation management association was not aware that the county was going to start working on a local ordinance then you are clueless as them.

    I believe our local government did their home work. Looking at 20 to 40 differ local ordinances in the State of Florida in addition to numerous ordinances in other cities and counties through out the US. The county staff work very hard trying to balance both sides of the issue and they did a great job.

  5. Concerned Citizen
    Concerned Citizen says:


    All these folks that are complaining should have purchased there homes within a community that didn’t have any rental properties allowed thru their own HOA’s. They do exist in Palm Coast, for example Hammock Dunes or better yet a 55 plus retirement community. Think of all the income this is generating for Flagler county with the tourism that is coming in to our county. I remember moving here almost 20 years ago and I voted for Palm Coast to become a City to see such a beautiful city transform into what it is today. Either take it or leave it

  6. concerned local citizen
    concerned local citizen says:


    If you dont like that you live in a community that the HOA clearly allows rental properties….then move dont hurt the rest of the county by not attracting tourism into this county. All those who want an enjoyable quality of life need to know one thing….everyone wants that. Regardless if you have a million dollar home or a 150K home.

    If you cant open your windows then its time for you to move into a 55 plus retirement community or check yourself into a nursing home.

    Completely a waste of our taxpayers money. Let these stakeholders have their input and allow all of them to come forward and have a say also.

    They brought in alot of $$$$ to this county that alot of them want to come back with their families. Stop being so snooty just because you have money.

    Keep these renters coming into our county and bringing income to our local stores, restaurants, vendors, etc. Without them this county is nothing.

  7. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Ronald

    When you fast forwarded, you skipped the part where in January 2001, the Board of County Commissioners affirmed Bobby Ginn’s plan which referred to Ocean Hammock as a “resort community” with “no prohibition on renting houses on a daily basis.” Mr. Ginn reaffirmed this fact recently in sworn testimony.

  8. Terry laydon
    Terry laydon says:

    Not Good for Flagler

    I rent a few months a year, because I will not be here. If I’m not here, then I don’t spend money here. But, my Canadian renters sure do. If all this becomes too much of a pain-in-the — I will no longer rent. Why, because I don’t have to. Flagler, please be smart about this.

  9. Jim O'Connell
    Jim O'Connell says:

    Short Term rental

    This is an ordinance that needs to be well thought out. It appears to me after a scan of the ordinance that they will be the regulations by which short term rentals will be administered THROUGHOUT the entire county.
    It would be best if it were an agreement where all parties involved had a voice in the drafting of it and TIME TO REVIEW IT thoroughly. Especially the Planning and Development Review Board and the BOCC need to spend time and energy to review all the implications of the ordinance.
    As I read it now it regulates, as it should, the 10 BR, 10BA inside of a gated community. But it also imposes a big hardship on the homeowner who uses their house as a second home but rents it when they are not using it. See the note from the SC (or NC) person who makes this exact point. She is emotional in her comments and I guess I would be also if I were in her position. As an aside, years ago I was one of those people. My wife and I had a summer vacation home a block from Long Island sound which we used during the summer and then rented to school teachers during the winter months. The rental money helped us pay the mortgage and house proved to be a worthwhile investment.
    I am not in town so I do not have details, about how other news organization covered this issue. Considering what you TOBY have reported, on the actions, or inactions, that the Planning Board took I think the BOCC should table this until a thorough review of it can be completed.
    In closing, when I was running for office in 2004 a former Commissioner told me to be sure I made my decisions after carefully considering all the options and to not let the 50 loud voices in the Commission Chambers lead me into decision that was wrong for the other 60,000 people in the county. I know it is election time and I recognize that significant support has been provided to some of the Commissioners’ from the affected area. However, their job is to step back and legislate what is best for all their constituents. They need to consider even the woman from SC who doesn’t get to vote here but pays taxes here.
    Once again, my recommendation to the County Commissioners is to table the issue until all the parties involved have had a chance to provide input, and there is time for the Planning and Review Board to review it and can submit on its’ recommendations to them.

  10. Bear
    Bear says:


    My parents came down to Palm Coast in the early 70’s. It was a dream
    of my father to come to Florida. He started a construction business that became one to be respected. He was one of the first three construction companies that started here. We are so blessed to be in
    Palm Coast and so lucky to have made it thru such difficult times.
    We need to remember those difficult times. Families, children homeless, store fronts closing, people out of work, people leaving
    and businsess closing. I will never forget. There is not a place in
    Florida that people don’t rent vacation homes. It helps keep families
    with their realtives together and friends together. It is a way families stay with each other. Not only do they spend a tremendeous amount of monies in our community, resturants, stores, auto, medical clinics, gas, ect. We need to embrace them as other communities have done not only in Florida but all over. My father always rented a home
    with my Aunts, Uncles and cousins. It was the best time of our lives.
    The Owners of these rentals are spending their monies in our community which promotes construction, which promotes jobs and the
    rest of other business to stay open. Why is this County so against promoting solutions to growth, jobs and keeping businsess open. Are we not tired to see so many close doors. Is it not funny the St. Augustine has few doors closed, their stores are always busy and went
    thru a rough time as we did. They have rentals, so does Orlando, the
    West Coast of Florida. They make it work. Some of us forgotten our roots and how important these rentals are to families vacationing together and to boost our coummunity. Many who come down end up moving here. This is not a retirement community anymore it has grown
    into a City that we need to nourish. Be fair to all that this will effect. Love your City or it could die like so many have.

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