Mark's Commentary on Short Term Rental Regulation
By Mark Kuharski
One of the most frequent issues Punta Gorda residents bring to my attention concern short term rentals not being good neighbors; noise late into the night; cars, boats, and trailers parked all over the property; trash; overcrowding; security is a major concern. Who knows who their neighbors are week to week, even day to day? The list goes on and on.
No one moved to Punta Gorda to live next to a motel, yet that’s what’s happening thanks to Tallahassee. In 2011 the State Legislature passed a law that severely limits the ability of local governments to regulate short term rentals. They later amended that law to further restrict local governments.
Municipalities are still able to pass and enforce codes that are applicable to all residents but I don’t consider anything a good solution when it turns neighbor against neighbor in an escalating war of reporting code violations. Local ordinances specific to short-term rentals in effect prior to this law can still be enforced. But the short term rental industry has expanded dramatically in recent years into neighborhoods that never thought they’d be in the crosshairs. And now that they are Tallahassee says it’s too late for them to do anything about it.
That doesn’t set well with me. I am very protective of my neighbors and my city. So I rallied my resources looking for an acceptable solution. I’ve learned that while the law does not allow local governments to ban short-term rentals entirely or regulate the length of stays or their frequency, local governments may pass rules to control negative effects of short term rentals.
Several counties including Collier, St. Johns, and Miami Beach have all recently passed ordinances aimed at controlling the effects of short term rentals. The ordinance in Miami Beach has even been tested in court and the majority of it was upheld. I’ve tasked the Punta Gorda City Attorney to allocate resources to prepare a draft ordinance to be discussed at a future council meeting.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all short term rentals are bad. In fact they pay business taxes in addition to property taxes which helps keep all of our tax bills in check. The vast majority are good neighbors, but if you live next to a bad one, there’s not much you can do. I plan to get that changed.
We are going to put neighborly back into our neighborhoods. All of them.