This is a much improved document but it still has room for further improvement. GoToby.com 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 .
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 www.flaglercounty.org.