Reader Response to Commissioner Solari’s Commentary on Short Term Rentals

Jackie and Bob

Jackie and Bob Solari

Mr. Solari’s Commentary can be found using this link:

“MR. SOLARI PRESENTS A RELATIVELY UNINFORMED AND ONE-SIDED VIEW of the short term rental (less than 30 days) transient commercial lodging establishment business, which is operating in non-commercial zoned areas of IRC, as grey market, unlicenced, “motel or B&B type establishments’”.

The regulations of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), of the State of Fla, clearly define such rentals of less than 30 days as “operating a transient public lodging establishment”.  These transient public lodging establishments are defined in Fla Statute 509.242, and include hotel, motel, VACATION RENTAL, transient apartment, B&B, etc.

As such, these ‘commercial business establishments’ are required to obtain DBPR issued license before commencing operation. Such businesses are also required to collect and pay Sales Tax to the State of Fla, and County Tourism Development Tax (aka Transient Occupancy Tax or ‘bed tax’) to the County Clerk of IRC (who serves as tax collector for this type of tax).

This means these public lodging establishments must be registered are report taxes to the County Clerk. Many counties also require such “businesses” to undertake inspections prior to commencing offering rooms or houses for daily or weekly lease.

There is a need for posting of fire evacuation notice on inside door of each unit, checking the fire sprinkler system, confirming the County Code Enforcement has 24/7 contact number for issues, posting of the business license outside next to front door, assuring that rental ads for the units indicate the business license number issued, etc. We should also understand that such daily or weekly leases are not subject to landlord/tenant laws, but fall under hotel owner/guest laws–ie there is no eviction notice required, etc.

And in cases of hotels, motels and B&B, there are strict occupancy limits in rooms, and parking provisions, and on site managers to control activity of guests. In ‘unlicenced’ grey market ‘vacation home rentals’, there is no control of 2 AM parties by the pool, excessive occupancy, noise and bad behavior, etc.

This is not merely hypothetical—in Dahlia Rd, in Vero’s Central Beach, just a few blocks from Mr. Solari’s home in posh Riomar area, a group of 5-7 teenagers from Miami (several underage) rented a vacation home for the weekend through the “gig” economy vendor Airbnb, partying and terrorizing the neighbors, robbing cars and so forth, and the ‘owner’ didn’t even have the names or id info on the ‘guests’ and had never even seen them.

Who would want to live next to a “unit” that has been turned into a transient “guest house,” with no manager or control over the occupants?  The internet has enabled a huge new industry that threatens the safety, peace and tranquility of our community.

The majority of owners of these STR “vacation homes” are investors, often not even from the local area, using vacation home rental management companies to “run their business’.” They don’t vote in our elections, don’t send their children to our schools, don’t attend our churches or otherwise participate in our communities.

The “guests” who come, often stay in overcrowded conditions (family reunion, etc) as a way to party on the cheap. That Solari says the county depends on tourism, should mean that he supports the legitimate hotel/motel business, and encourages this “regulated’ sector in commercially zoned areas.”

But the unlicenced—and most of the 700 rentals identified by the ‘blogger’ Dr. Miles Conway, who has been fighting against this spreading cancer for several years—rentals do little to promote tourism, rather causing declining property values and increased crime and disturbance. For example, on the North end of IRC’s beautiful barrier island, there are oceanfront houses that have been turned into “party houses” every weekend, w/ reports of naked teens swimming in neighbors pools, fires on the beach, garbage left for days on the side of A1A in ripped plastic bags, etc.

This situation was reported to County Commissioners, from letters submitted on record by Dr. Conway, which had been written by some of the North island oceanfront residents. Perhaps he failed to read them?

Perhaps he needs to talk to the County Sheriff, who confirmed this was drawing large resources to answer disturbance calls on North island. Finally, the current unfortunate situation arose from the failure of Mr. Solari and his fellow Commissioners to do their homework several years ago, when against the recommendation of their own Planning Department, they tossed out the existing zoning controls on transient/short term rentals.

The public comment hearing included 7-9 speakers against tossing the regulation, and 3 vacation rental business operators (including Delray Beach based Bill Waterman) saying it should be tossed. The 5-0 vote by Commissioners, clearly against the pubic will, opened the doors to the current situation, where disruptive ‘vacation homes’ and STR businesses can now only be controlled by new and awkward parking restrictions, noise ordinances, etc. Even ‘party center’ Ft. Lauderdale has started drafting strict ordinances to control this plague of daily and weekly rentals in residential areas.

Doesn’t Mr. Solari understand?”

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