Reacting to Flagler and Ocean Hammock resident concerns, Florida returned most control of short-term vacation rentals to local governments. All of Florida is watching to see how Flagler responds.
Palm Coast, FL – November 8, 2014 – COMMENTARY: The Flagler County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) should be mindful that the State of Florida is watching to see how BOCC crafts its new short-term vacation rental ordinance. For years, Flagler County was the poor stepchild, unnoticed and underrepresented in Tallahassee. Flagler’s recent growth spurt and census-driven redistricting earned the county a seat at the grownup’s table.
The way in which Flagler Country chooses to craft its new short-term vacation rental ordinance will tell us if the county is worthy of a seat at that table. The draft ordinance presented to the Board of County Commissioners indicates that it is not.
Control over short-term vacation rentals was preempted in the first place because the rental industry successfully lobbied that local governments were regulating them out of business. Preemption had consequences that need to be addressed but Flagler’s draft ordinance simply reloads the rental lobby’s weapons with fresh ammunition.
What issues should be addressed by the new ordinance?
- Health and Safety – certainly
- Occupancy limits – although the present limit of 8 is indefensible
- License and certification – to help insure that bed taxes are collected, that health and safety measures are in place and to provide a method to prevent unauthorized physical alteration of premises.
Regulation of noise, parking, traffic, fireworks, etc. have no place in a short-term vacation rental ordinance. They belong either in a general ordinance or in community association rules. Ocean Hammock already has strict parking rules. For example, “vehicles parked in the driveway cannot block sidewalks, and must always be parked in the same direction.” And "the maximum number of vehicles that can be parked outside overnight (between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.) at any home cannot exceed four (4) vehicles, provided adequate parking space exists."
When Flagler went to Tallahassee, Tallahassee listened. Flagler had newly-found political capital. Now Tallahassee is watching. If the convoluted and overreaching short-term vacation rental ordinance is passed as drafted, Flagler’s political capital will have been squandered.
The initial ordinance should be a measured response, deserving of home rule. Start with the essentials, and then expand as appropriate.