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Few spoil Anna Maria for many, agents say

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria is tackling the problem of rowdy renters at rental properties before it worsens, basing a need for regulations on recent incidents in the city.

Taking a cue from Holmes Beach, where the issue arose about six months ago, Anna Maria Commissioner SueLynn and vacation rental agents Larry Chatt and Mike Brinson have been drawing up a code of best practices for rental agents and property managers. The agents would have renters sign an agreement to adhere to the code, and then use it to give violators an immediate boot, SueLynn said at the city commission’s Jan. 26 meeting.

But the rowdy behavior is not seen in 99 percent of renters who come to Anna Maria for a “family vacation” and “peaceful atmosphere,” SueLynn said.

Rental agents, such as Chatt and Brinson, say some problems are resulting from weddings and wedding-related parties in rented homes in traditionally residential neighborhoods.

It’s accompanied by owners who knowingly rent to partygoers, and a small group of rental agents who rent a home for a one-night event and “don’t care about Anna Maria and its residents,” she said.

With the advent of the Internet, it’s become easy for a property owner to rent his or her house to someone planning a party, SueLynn observed.

Property managers and rental agents don’t want that kind of business in Anna Maria, she said, and neither do residents.

Rental agents want to have a list of best practices and want the city’s seal of approval for using and enforcing those practices.

Under the list of best practices, wedding parties/receptions would need to be held at a commercial property, and agents would not knowingly rent a house for a party.

Some commissioners wanted immediate action, such as an ordinance that would create fines for the property manager or owner for a noise violation, but Commissioner John Quam suggested the city give the “best practices” code a chance.

Mike Coleman, who oversees several Anna Maria rentals, said he goes to the party where loud noise is occurring. He takes the keys away from the renter and tells them all to get out right away. Brinson and Chatt agreed they would do the same thing, as will other vacation rental managers.

With the word spreading around Anna Maria that the rental agents are giving loud parties the boot — including law enforcement backup — Quam said he believes late-night parties and loud noise after 10 p.m. will decline in the next three months.

Chatt said property managers on Anna Maria Island don’t want rowdy renters. They’d rather they go to Panama City or Fort Lauderdale, he said.

“We’re fighting to keep this Island special,” he said.

“The Island is a family destination,” Chatt said, and he, Brinson and others want it to remain that way. Just one loud, late-night party can ruin the Island’s reputation for happy vacationers.

Webb said Selby and Sgt. Dave Turner, head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation, are preparing an ordinance that would allow MCSO deputies to issue a citation to a loud party, much like a traffic citation.

SueLynn suggested commissioners meet with rental managers who want to adopt a code of best practices.

She said she’s also going to the resort tax office to get a list of property owners, including those who have not been paying the resort tax. If the city adopts a citation system for loud noise violations, the property owner or rental agent should pay the fine.

SueLynn said she hoped to “nail down” the list of best practices soon and bring it to a February commission meeting.

Commissioners also adopted a resolution opposing a bill presented in the Florida Legislature by state Sen. Michael Bennett (R-Bradenton) that would eliminate the license fee businesses and rental property owners pay cities. The Legislature has already adopted a statute that allows homeowners to rent their property, even for one night.

Selby noted the city does not have a business license, but would like to have the database such a fee would provide.

5 Responses to Few spoil Anna Maria for many, agents say

  1. George Tidy says:

    Being someone who vacations on Anna Maria with my wife Carol every year for many years i have to agree wholeheartily with the recommendations for a code to protect the residents of Anna Maria who allow people like us to share their island.
    Anna Maria is a special place somewhere i dream of every day when i am away from it and i would hate to feel that the local residents may resent us good visitors who appreciate the fantastic way of life on the Island and who feel privilaged to be allowed to spend a few weeks a year in paradise. Make the rules as tough as you like i will obey them to the letter to get my piece of Anna Maria every year.

  2. Jon says:

    We have come to AMI 3 different times, coming again Spring 2012. We come as a family to relax, eat great food, fish, swim and of course spend $$$$. Coming from a tourist town in Michigan I feel I know a little about the concerns over Rowdy Renters. We struggle with the same thing and honestly, business owners of all kinds have to stand up, be willing to pass on $$$ sometimes and make good decisions for the community. Once you turn into a party place, you can never go back…..and those like me will stop coming. Think of it this way…..we may spend far less on Beer and Booze but we spend far more on Dining Out because food is the focus. We also spend more on shopping as we love the nitchy things AMI offers. I love a few beers, love them, but when things go over board your beach, your town will suffer….who wins, the few who rent to those who abuse it! Just dont allow them to…….

  3. Ted says:

    I think having each rental property have a sign stating quiet hours begin at 10:00 PM and are strictly enforced. Additionally, the rental / lease forms should also state the quiet hours time and strict enforcement will include the renter will be removed from the property. A fine should be levied on the property owner or the renting / leasing agent for each incident where a complaint to the MSCO has been made and responded to otherwise the renting / leasing agent will do nothing to enforce the quiet hours.
    There is a rental property across the road from where we rent that has a fenced in pool area. Multiple families congregate around the pool and party till all hours of the night. The plastic fence only serves to amplify the noise. Contacting the property manager produced no response at all – an indication of just how much they care about the neighbors and the city in general.

  4. Melanie Scheuerle says:

    I applaude this effort. I agree that our residential properties in the city of Anna Maria should never be used venues. Anna Maria is a special place where people can enjoy peace and solitude and commune with nature. Residents, and guests alike, have the right to not be surrounded by noisy parties every weekend. Even the tamest of wedding receptions is too loud for residential living. Lets keep Anna Maria peaceful, and relaxing, and leave the wedding parties, and family reunions to the hotel business.

  5. Ian Griffin says:

    We’ve been holidaying on the island for the last 12 years and have always stayed just back from the beach in the are from the Sanbar up to Bean Point and over the last few years we’ve noted more and more parties at the beach front properties. Great news for you to introduce a code that can be enforced that will keep the island as it should be …. peaceful. Can’t wait to get back in May 2012.

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