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Urging Opposition, Flagler Beach’s Jane Mealy Says Vacation-Rental Proposals Could Change City’s Look

| February 7, 2018

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy currently chairs the commission. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy currently chairs the commission. (© FlaglerLive)

The debate over vacation-rental regulation in Florida has been ongoing in one form or another since 2011 when state law opened the way to unregulated rentals. In 2014 state law changed to give back local governments some regulatory authority, but the vacation-rental industry has since been pressuring state lawmakers again to eliminate, or “pre-empt,” local regulatory authority, reserving that much lighter authority to the state. The Legislature was close to passing such a pre-emptive law last year but fell short.


Legislators are again working on Senate and House bills to eliminate local authority, with the first such bill clearing a Senate committee last week, and another getting its first airing in committee Thursday. This year’s bills have caught the attention of cities especially because of a provision that would remove grandfather clauses. In Flagler Beach, for example, such a removal would nullify local authority, in place for a decade, to restrict vacation rentals to the city’s core commercial zone. On Tuesday, City Commission Chair Jane Mealy circulated a letter to her fellow commissioners and for dissemination through the city urging residents to oppose the proposal that would scale back local regulatory authority. The letter appears below. 

The Florida State Legislature is currently in session and is continuing its attack on “home rule,” despite the fact that, in 1968, Florida voters amended the State Constitution to delegate home rule authority to municipalities and counties. One issue the Legislature is attempting to preempt cities and counties from governing in a way the majority of resident’s desire is that of vacation, or short-term, rentals.

In 2008, after a great deal of discussion and sometimes heated debate among residents and between residents and the Flagler Beach City Commission, an ordinance was passed in our city regulating short term rentals in the manner that worked best for our city. During the last few legislative sessions, our state leaders have attempted to preempt such ordinances at the city and county level and create laws at the state level that would be one-size-fits-all rules throughout the state. This year is no exception.

Should the bills up for debate in the Legislature this year pass, Flagler Beach would no longer be able to regulate commercial activity in residential areas. Legislators claim that vacation rentals are residential in nature and, thus, belong in residential neighborhoods. The house next to you, possibly owned by an out-of-state investor, could be turned into a “hotel,” causing you to have new neighbors every few days, putting a strain on residential infrastructure, causing parking and possible noise-level issues, putting a strain on first responders and sanitation workers.

 
All short term rental licenses would be issued by the state, fire and building code inspections would be performed by the state (every two years, with only up to 1 percent of all short term rentals being inspected each year statewide), yet it would be up to local law enforcement to make sure that the laws are upheld. (License fees would be collected by the state, but the increased costs to the city would no longer be funded by the license fees).
 

Single family residential homes would be allowed to rent to up to six people per bedroom (a home with three bedrooms would equal 18 people). A local government could only regulate vacation rental properties in the same manner as it regulates all residential properties. The City Commission would no longer be able to determine short term renters’ length of stay nor the frequency of short term rentals at any property [though those prohibitions are already in existing regulations].

The Flagler Beach Commission and city manager have been actively working to prevent such legislation from being enacted. However, as legislative committees continue to meet, it appears as though this preemption will occur.

We are now asking for you, as a resident of our great city and a voter who elects our state level representatives, to become more actively involved by contacting our legislators and sharing your thoughts with them regarding this issue. 

The bills you should discuss are:

Contact:

  • Senator Travis Hutson                                                                      
    314 Senate Office Building
    404 South Monroe Street                                                    
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
    (850) 487-5007 

          Hutson.Travis@flsenate.gov 

          Paul.Renner@myfloridahouse.gov

Let’s all work to preserve the unique character of our city, to preserve the Commission’s ability to govern as is best for our city, and to preserve our residential neighborhoods.

–Jane Mealy, Flagler Beach City Commissioner and Chair.

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24 Responses for “Urging Opposition, Flagler Beach’s Jane Mealy Says Vacation-Rental Proposals Could Change City’s Look”

  1. Dave says:

    I am a Homeowner in Flagler County and i feel the county should stay out of my affairs, LET HOME OWNERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO AS THEY PLEASE. Vacation rentals are the future of our neighborhoods.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Make up your minds already

  3. Bc. says:

    I bet any law maker voting for this bill dose not have a vacation rental any were near them I have one next to me and it’s a nightmare. We need to vote all of them out of office who votes for this bill they are caving in to the rental industry they don’t care about the homeowners. What do they not get a single family home is not a mini hotel. This sucks the rental homes ruin a neighborhood just ask the homeowners in my neighborhood painters walk we are stuck with 3 of them in here. Just to mention one pet peeve the many motor cycles coming and going all hours of the night. Or one more the people reliving them self in plane view. I can go on and on and on. Just use you imagination on what we must have to put up with. I invite a law maker to come spend a night here when the mini hotels are rented out. But again they don’t care about us they are being bought by the big rental industry. VOTE THEM OUT.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So state rule is only good when it’s liked by big business and now county/city rule is only good when it’s for businesses profits as well? Uggg

  5. Brian Smith says:

    Have they still grandfathered in daily rentals in FB currently? If they exists then they need to make it the same for everyone, or no one..

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dave-I couldn’t agree with you more. Jane needs to be voted out of office when her term is up and we need some people with fresh ideas and ideas that will make our city better, encourage people to work together for a common goal. I think the county has put astigmatism on all city councils that they think they have to control everything and be like the county, and therefore the county and cities stick their noses where they don’t belong. HOME OWNERS SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO MANAGE THEIR PROPERTY HOW THEY SEE FIT. THE CITY HAS NO VESTED INTERESTED IN PRIVATE PROPERTY-THEY DON’T PAY THE PURCHASE PRICE NOR DO THEY PAY THE INSURANCE AND TAXES, SO STAY OUT OF OUR PERSONAL BUSINESS! If you don’t like it here, move elsewhere–don’t come here and try to change it to how it was where you came from.

  7. Bc. says:

    Dave I am sure you don’t have any of the mini hotels near you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    That’s right allow fellow retired Americans who cannot afford vacation houses , come and enjoy beautiful Florida. Don’t be greedy. Most renters are your fellow retired Americans.

  9. Joe says:

    They’ve (the commission) done an awful job with the redevelopment district. The business district doesn’t draw anyone. They want to stop a new hotel and the expansion of Fish Company over parking. They’re going to drive down values to the point where its going to look like Daytona. Simple Minds.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How about do your job and stop trying to compete with county government…..they failed and wasted lots of tax dollars in the process…..Flagler Beach doesn’t have funds to splurge with so get to work and stop the drama.

  11. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Dear Senators Hutson and Hukill
    As Chair and Vice Chair of Regulated Industries I would like you to address how you plan to handle the following horrendous situations the passage of any of the proposed VACATION RENTALS will bring with it:
    Who will enforce the abuses of ‘homestead exemptions’ fraudulently claimed for single family transient rentals in homes not occupied full time by the property owners?
    Who will enforce the legal rights of true single family homeowners who are entitled to QUIET PEACE and Enjoyment of their homes 24/7?
    The additional cost and time of municipal services the transients can cause for police? Fire? Trash and garbage?
    Who will insure that insurance companies will not be raising rates due to the
    Absent property owners paying for ‘owner occupied lower insurance rates and then claiming for ‘damages’ caused by the transients?

    Lastly – How dare you take away my right to turn to my local government ,which I have now , for the services my property tax money entitles me to:
    On what basis can you legally combine single family zoning with commercial zoning?
    Are you aware that the state will face multitudes of lawsuits from single family property owners who are entitled to what their DEED says they are entitled to but which rights you are taking away?
    Lastly – you can expect citizen investigations of elected officials being lobbyists for private industry while serving the public?

    Don’t you dare tangle with my single family home legal rights and expect to keep your senate seats without a huge battle

    Jane Gentile-Youd
    Florida homeowner since 1977

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    Vacation rental will open up a whole set of problems to neighborhoods. If you think they are just going to house sunny retired vacationers you are naive and sadly mistaken.

    Vacation rentals allow for the same set up that BNB rentals currently have. You’ll have short term transients in and out of that home all the time. Multiple cars parked everywhere and people coming and going whenever.

    And who wants to be crammed into a bedroom with 6 other people? As well as a one or 2 shared bathroom? Yuck no thanks. That once decent home will be trashed and nasty.

    And the managing vacation company will hire some halfway cleaning company to come in and “clean” periodically. That in itself will open all sorts of health related violations.

    Sounds like to me the term “Vacation Rental” is just another fancy term for boarding house. Been there done that never going back.

    Jane makes a valid point. It’s the permanent residents that are going to absorb all these costs when these things start getting filled.

    Something to think about before the City rolls over residents with their grand plans.

  13. Pogo says:

    @the human comedy

    I bet many people upset about the frat house and/or hot sheet hotel living next to them – where once was a neighbor – voted for every Republican criminal in office.

    Some of the people who favor “personal property rights” are just going with the flow of the dog eat dog world they think they can’t change. They didn’t make things the way they are and they snarl at anyone who tells them otherwise. And some are just indifferent landlords grubbing for money and praying they won’t lose their over leveraged butt. And some are the usual suspects who own their own airline. “Move aside peasant, you’re impeding a person of quality.”

    Wake up. Republican politicians (and limousine liberals selling hope in heaven for you, and heaven here for them) don’t care even a little about you. The real estate of the entire planet is listed and for sale on the entire planet. Literally. “They ain’t makin’ new land – ha ha.” So true. And money from all over the planet is bidding up the price of everything. You can’t compete with Russian, Chinese, Indian, etc, etc millionaires? That’s too bad. Maybe something will work out for you. Good luck and God bless. Hey, it does nothing, but it costs nothing too – and works with everything. Or at least it seems that way with people who vote Republican.

    Manipulating your affection for folksy soft soap and maudlin fairy tales, e.g., Budweiser super bowl ads, is the stock and trade of the cynical whores (with Ivy League degrees in marketing and finance) who write the copy for those ads.They’re the same mercenaries that create the slick attack ads that fool you so well. All of it paid for with anonymous wealth that is buying every goddamn thing in existence – including you.

    Here’s the thing: Republicans have had total control of Florida for almost twenty years. Whatever it is – they made it.

    Wake up. Vote the Republicans out..

  14. mark101 says:

    I just wonder how many of these posters have a vacation rental on both sides of them. I would bet 1 maybe

  15. JohnX says:

    on the bright side, if people rent their houses out this way, it means they no longer qualify for homestead exemption and therefore the taxes collected should be a lot higher. will mean more funding.

  16. smarterthanmost says:

    Daily rentals in residential neighborhoods should be forbidden. And don’t start with “my property rights” nonsense. Your neighbors are entitled to enjoy their homes, not tolerate your disrespect for a few bucks. If you can’t afford the home, sell it, if you want to rent property, buy a motel.

  17. Mothersworry says:

    Most look at what is in the area when they buy a home. When a home is purchased in a single family area that is what people expect. Not to find a rental or commercial building suddenly appear next door. This whole thing is a thinly veiled spot zoning scam and should be treated accordingly.

    Kudos to Jane Mealy for shining a light on this issue.

  18. FlagerRedo says:

    Do people that live in Plantation Bay really have a dog in this fight? I think they have a different agenda. Maybe they should explain.

  19. Fact’s says:

    Senator Hutson is not the protector of our single family communities. He is working with the vacation Management association lobbyist. In 2014 he alone flub Senator Thrushers bill that would have gave back full local control, repealing the 2011 law.

    Our neighborhoods have been under seize by investors since 2011 when the legislature removed home rule authority when they pass 2011 Senate Bill 883. They cause all these problems. These Senators and Representatives that have voted in favor of this overreach are bought and paid for by AIRBNB, HOMEAWAY, Florida Vacation Management Association and the Florida Realators Association.

    Now they want to remove these short term vacation rentals from being classified as transient public lodging establishment businesses. What about a single family dwelling that has license their dwelling as a bed and breakfast? Is this not a transient public lodging establishment? What makes a vacation rental different?All of these dwellings that use licensing agreements to conduct transient operations are public lodging establishments. This licensing agreement is used by hotels, motels, B& B’s and short term vacation rentals.

    Do not be fool by our legislators that vote no on these bills. They are all colluding. They all know how each other is voting prior to the meeting. The fix is in. The only way to solve these issue is to run a candidate that will truly represent their constituents and vote these politicians out.

    I ask the following questions to our state representatives:

    Would you buy or live in a single family home next door to a vacation rental?
    Why are all transient public lodging establishments prevented from operating in zoned single family neighborhoods except vacation rentals?
    Why did you change the name of these dwellings in 2011 from Resort dwelling to vacation rental?
    Why did you exempt vacation rentals from life safety inspections?
    Why did you exempt vacation rentals from sprinkler requirements?
    Why did you place a representative from the vacation Management association on the DBPR?
    Why are ordinances that where in place prior to 2011 grandfather?
    Why are ordinances that have been adopted after 2014 not grandfather?

    These vacation rentals are not rentals or leases. They are commercial busniesses and do not belong in our single family communities. Local governments should have the authority to regulate these businesses as the see fit. They represent their residents. Tallahassee should stay out of the vacation regulatory busniess. They do not have the resources.

    The smartest solution. Is a full repeal of 2011 Sentate Bill 883!

  20. Wishful thinking says:

    Everyone who lives in a resort style area – whether golf course or beach or mountains has a dog in this fight

  21. Root Cause says:

    Flagler Beach and the entire County was ruined by PC!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Anyone living in Palm Coast or any other area of the county could be faced with the same……Some people want country life to hunt, others want beach life and so on. This isn’t like they are putting 50 people in a 3 bedroom house. This houses were built to accommodate a large number of people. When you see a house of this size common sense is that it isn’t for a family of 4. The county approved the building permits so now they have to live with it. Anyone has the right to rent their home. The county cannot impose regulations and rules on just a handful of homeowners. The county needs to get to work on issues that would benefit all of us; provide us needed services.

  23. smarterthanmost says:

    @anonymous ” Anyone has the right to rent their home.”

    Not true, not even close. As I said, if you want to rent your property, buy a motel.

    @pogo “I bet many people upset about the frat house and/or hot sheet hotel living next to them – where once was a neighbor – voted for every Republican criminal in office.”

    You’re using a pretty fat brush painting that nonsense.

  24. Anonymous says:

    What part of NO don’t you understand Commissioners and Hadeed? Now get to work!! Stop wasting our tax dollars running back and forth to Tallahassee, you are on the payroll of the people of Flagler County!

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