Revised Flagler Short-term Vacation Rental Draft Ordinance Surfaces

This is a much improved document but it still has room for further improvement. poked fun at the first draft for having 68 “Whereas” clauses. The second draft has 80.

Palm Coast, FL – January 27, 2015 – The latest rendition of Flagler County’s proposed Short-term Vacation Rental Ordinance has been released for review. The updated draft is a big improvement over the original but it still needs work.

The first draft of the ordinance was poorly crafted. It tried to be a “one size fits all,” essentially covering all of Unincorporated Flagler County. It attempted to address all of the issues faced by residents of the Ocean Hammock neighborhood; traffic, noise, occupancy levels, parking and trash. All this while addressing health and safety issues and business regulation.

Pushback from the vacation rental industry at the Board of County Commissioners' first reading prompted commissioners to direct staff to work with stakeholders to revise the ordinance prior to the second reading, now scheduled for February 19, 2015.

Summary of changes

  • Anti-noise language was stripped. That issue will be left to other ordinances.
  • Language dealing with parking and trash is better crafted.
  • The ordinance is limited to single family and two family homes. Condominiums are excluded.
  • Areas west of US Highway 1 are excluded.
  • The requirement for a land line telephone within the rental unit was removed.
  • Other health and safety issues seem reasonable.
  • Sleeping rooms are more clearly defined.
  • Residences rented short-term three or fewer times in a calendar year are excluded.
  • Language has been added to clarify the steps and procedures for obtaining and maintaining a certification requiring compliance to the ordinance.
  • The requirement for nearby property management was relaxed.
  • A vesting program for existing vacation rentals is provided.
  • The occupancy limit is increased from eight to ten.

County staff has done a good job crafting the changes but the occupancy limit is still bound to remain a sticking point. Using the proposed rule of two persons per bedroom plus two, but not to exceed ten, is fine for homes with up to four bedrooms, but the Mac Mansions in the Ocean Hammock community are often much larger.

The Florida Fire Code defines a Hotel as “a building or groups of buildings under the same management in which there are sleeping accommodations for more than 16 persons and primarily used by transients for lodging with or without meals.” Clearly, occupancy of short-term vacation rentals should not exceed 16.

The first draft’s occupancy limit of eight was arbitrary. So is the new draft’s limit of 10. Florida Fire Code, at 16, gives county staff a solid number on which to hang their regulatory hat. Accordingly, the occupancy limit should be 16 .

Final thoughts

The new ordinance will create new work for county staff. The county should explain how it plans to administer the ordinance and at what cost.

The draft offers a method to apply for a higher vested occupancy, but the language is vague. That fact will be largly mitigated if the occupancy limit raised from 10 to16.

Somewhere, there must be a rule that sets a limit on “Whereas” clauses. Natural order would dictate that an ordinance should have no more “Whereas” clauses than it has pages.

*  The draft Short Term Vacation Rental ordinance is available under the “Quicklinks” section on the home page of the Flagler County website at

8 replies
  1. Bill White
    Bill White says:

    Conflict of Interest

    Toby you should disclose that you receive revenue from Vacation Rentals iCompanies the form of Advertising and hence you Have a conflict of interest.

  2. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Rental Occupancy Limit

    Ten occupants per home seems more than reasonable to me. Not sure what the average household size in US is but let’s guess it is 4 people, why wouldn’t two and a half families be sufficient limit to respect the non-renting homeowners in the neighborhood? Do we really want to allow upwards of four families renting next door to folks who have to contend with the everyday noise of car doors closing and social activities on the patio or deck? The comparison to the definition of what constitutes a hotel does not compute, somewhere between a private home rental and a hotel are B&B’s and Inns. These should be allowed in properly zoned districts such as St Augustine commercial borders but not in Palm Coast residential neighborhoods. If someone built a home with more than four bedrooms they are welcome to have their extended family and friends come for a visit but we should not feel compelled to support a business enterprise greater than 10 people in their home to cover their investment expenses.

  3. Ron Boyce
    Ron Boyce says:

    Average Size Family Household


    The US. average family household size has decrease in 2010 it is now 2.59. In 2000 it was 2.62. In Flagler County the 2010 census indicates 2.42. By setting an occupancy of 10 is more than reasonable.

    Here is another point that was not disclosed in this article. The vacation rental industry lobby our representatives to eliminate home rule for our local governments in June 2011. Each local municipality should be able to determine where vacation rentals fit in their residential zoning and planning development. In fact the vacation rental lobbyist insisted that they needed this law to help distress property owners. This was a complete false hood. Since the enactment of House Bill 883 in 2011, Flagler County has experience a large increase in the construction of new, oversize structures for the primary purpose of serving as mini- hotels with occupancies exceeding 24 people. In addition those homes that where either sold as short sells or foreclosures where scoop up by investors and converted into vacation rentals. These conversions added additional bedrooms to the dwelling without complying with the Florida building code or the fire prevention code. Image saving all your life, then building the home of your dreams, then suddenly home rule was taken away from your local officials and a brad new 12 bedroom vacation home was built right next door with occupancies of 24 people changing daily. The eight occupancy cap is not arbitrary when you are addressing single family home communities.

    Let’s take a look at the water usage. According to the DCDD the capacity that was used for each single family home was set at 250 gallons of water per day or 7600 gallons of water per month. This is base on an occupancy of 2.5 people per household. The DCDD decided to due a preliminary check of some of the units ( Homes) and found them using as much as 25,100 gallons per month to the extreme of 52,160 gallons of water per month. Does this sound like the proper usage of a single family home? Who is going to pay for this abuse?

    Why would our representatives remove home rule from our local officials? Vacation rentals have been operating in this state for years with local controls. This ordinance deals with some of the issues. It is a step in the right direction. But it still falls short. All residents in the state of Florida should contact their state representatives and ask them to restore home rule as it relates to vacation rentals.

    Did you know as an owner of a vacation rental you are responsible for setting occupancy limits not the vacation rental management company. If you operate a vacation rental you must comply with the Florida Fire Prevention code 69A-43.018. In addition the insurance that is required is for a commercial business. If I was an owner of a vacation rental I would educate myself before entering into a contract with a vacation rental company.

    Toby how do you feel about occupying a three bedroom condo with 13 or more people since occupancy is arbitrary? Just check the vacation rental companies site, it is very informative.

  4. Ron
    Ron says:


    Since condominiums are exempt at this moment we should give them a pass on the occupancy abuse.

    If you read the ordinance it does mention that the county can and should institute a vacation rental ordinance for condominiums that are being operated as vacation rentals.

    In addition they should be in compliance with the Florida fire prevention code.

    Toby you are an advocate for occupancy abuse in a single family homes.There is no justification for a home built and constructed in compliance with the Florida building code as a single family to be operated as a multiple dwelling. Since you are fixated on 16. How about if I rent those two units nextdoor to you and occupy them with 16 people on a daily basis. I am sure your wife would be ok with that.

    In addition there is no reason to allow these dwellings to operate on a daily basis. Our local governments should be able to set duration and frequently limits as they see fit. They should also be allowed to prohibited this type of operation in single family communities.

  5. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Ron Boyce

    Since you apparently did not read my article completely, let me reiterate:

    I mentioned the maximum occupancy rule of two per bedroom plus two. Using that rule a three bedroom dwelling would have a maximum capacity of eight persons, not 13 or more as you suggest. (Condominiums are exempt from the ordinance.)

    I write that the fire code would not allow capacities over 16. Therefore, the 24 that you mention would not (and I say should not) be allowed.

    Non-compliant bedrooms should not be used to compute occupancy limits. The draft ordinance provides for inspections prior to issuing a certificate.

    Furthermore, I think requiring proper and sufficient insurance is not burdensome.

    Having said that, I repeat, “Florida Fire Code, at 16, gives county staff and the BOCC a solid number on which to hang their regulatory hat.” Dwellings with fewer than seven bedrooms would be governed by the LESSER OF the “two per bedroom plus two” rule or by the “occupant per square foot” rule.

  6. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Ron

    I’m getting tired of replying to people who comment on what I write without reading it first.

    1. Fact: Condominiums are exempt. I simply quoted the county press release. I did not publish an opinion, but for the record, I think occupancy limits should apply to condominiums as well.

    2. I did not say that condominiums should not comply with fire codes. Of course they should. And that has nothing to do with the short-term vacation rental ordinance. The fire code stand very well by itself.

    3. I’m not sure what you mean by a “multiple dwelling.” The units next door to me are two bedroom and three bedroom units respectively. The three bedroom unit is owner-occupied. The two-bedroom unit is in a short-term vacation rental position. Using the “two per bedroom plus two” rule would allow six occupants. Neither I nor my wife would have a problem with that.

    4. I’m sure you understand that your final paragraph is assertion, not fact. Your community documents had no prohibition against rentals. What is a “single-family community?”

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply