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Property rights coalition forms to address rental problems

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Holmes Beach code enforcement officer David Forbes and Diana McManaway of the newly formed Anna Maria Coalition talk with rental agents, builders and concerned residents at a Sept. 10 meeting at Eat Here, 5315 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Property rights are on the front burner for Diana McManaway and Anna Maria Coalition LLC — a recently formed organization picking up where an earlier consortium of rental agents left off earlier this year.

    McManaway of 66th Street gained the consensus of about 30 builders, rental agents and others who met Sept. 10 at Eat Here, 5315 Gulf Drive, to bring AMC LLC’s good-neighbor policies to city commissioners.

    “I saw what they were proposing would affect your property rights,” she said. “We need to have a voice.”

    Before the meeting, McManaway — a former Ocala businesswoman who moved to Holmes Beach about three years ago — said AMC will help address and monitor rental agent best practices.

    Larry Chatt, broker at Island Real Estate, told the commission in December he’d been meeting with five of the island’s largest property management companies to address renter-related trash, parking and noise problems.

    Chatt continued promoting best practices with focus groups and in the community, but now appears to prefer a lower profile. In July, his agency was sent a violation notice for an alleged illegal first-floor game room at 203 69th St.

    Asked for an update on his group, Chatt said they’ve only met informally, and while he hasn’t audited the others about the best practices, he believes “everyone’s using them.”

    According to Chatt, Island Real Estate provides its renters with information about city rules, and has given Holmes Beach Police Department its list of rentals with instructions to call immediately if there are complaints.

    McManaway said she decided to form AMC Sept. 4 after learning commissioners were considering new living-area building restrictions that she believes will discourage desirable full-time residents who want more living space.

    After explaining the coalition’s focus to the attendees, McManaway introduced city code enforcement officer David Forbes.

    Forbes identified top issues in code enforcement as ground-level game rooms and rentals under the seven-day or 30-day minimum zoning restrictions.

    For both issues, he told the group, “the easiest fix in the world” is for the property agents and owners to change advertising.

    Even though the ground-level game rooms are not allowed, he said advertising could indicate pool tables or other amenities are provided.

    “It’s not supposed to be a finished product,” he said.

    On the zoning-restricted rentals, he said, “What I boil it down to is one rental for the seven-day period. One rental for a 30-day period.

    “I understand everyone wants to maximize their income. But there are rules to playing in Holmes Beach,” Forbes said.

    He also discussed parking and trash.

    “Right now we have people parking on lawns and rights of way. And the crazy thing is they can. You can park out there indefinitely. But I don’t think you want to see that up and down your streets,” he said.

    Forbes encouraged rental agents to enforce a one-space-per-bedroom parking rule.

    As far as garbage, trash and noise, Forbes and Tom Rushmore of Gulf Drive emphasized renters need to know the rules and regulations.

    Many attendees expressed confusion about Waste Management’s side-door trash pickup service.

    Forbes also said he’s hearing from tenants, cleaning crews and others saying they don’t know city rules even though a one-page list was distributed to rental agents.

    “I highly advise you use it,” Forbes said. “Put it on your refrigerators.” He also suggested the list be posted in places people frequent in community complexes, including pools.

    “You have to have face-to-face contact with the renter,” Rushmore said. “Then you take the ammunition from the other side.”

    McManaway and others said many noise complaints fail to amount to violations, and police and rental agency resources are wasting time responding to them.

    Forbes said there are people who “don’t want the rental community here.”

    Anna Maria Vacations principal Joe Varner agreed, saying “that is the problem here.”

    McManaway suggested coalition members “let everybody know we’re working on it with the renters, the builders. It’s bricks and sticks, guys. It’s not the building that is the problem. It’s the people in the buildings.”

    She then concluded the meeting with a fist pump after getting a consensus from attendees to carry their message of trying to create a balance for residents and visitors.

    Forbes added, “Can’t we all just get along?”

    McManaway agreed, “There you go. Can’t we all get along?”

        McManaway said the coalition did not form for a business purpose, nor was it a political group supporting any candidate or political cause, but rather a solutions-oriented entity for the betterment of neighborhoods.

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