ManaSota League of Cities board members Kit McKeon, left, Jean Peelen, Carol Carter and John Chappie prepare Jan. 12 for a meeting in the chambers at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
As the state gears up for the 2017 legislative session in Tallahassee, the ManaSota League of Cities is preparing its stance on short-term rental regulations.
Its position is clear — give short-term rental rights back to residents in barrier island cities.
At its Jan. 12 meeting, board members discussed the MSLC’s approach for the legislative session, which starts March 7.
The MSLC comprises nine members, each representing a municipality in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Members of the MSLC meet bimonthly to discuss local issues affecting the cities.
The primary goal of the MSLC is to support and enforce home rule — the power for local governments to make legislative decisions.
State law enacted in 2011 prohibit municipalities from further legislating vacation rentals beyond any rules that existed prior to the legislation.
Currently, island cities can impose some regulations on vacations rentals. However, according to state law, local governments cannot regulate frequency and duration of stay.
Additionally, when home rule was diminished in 2011, island cities were not prepared to deal with the influx of people in their neighborhoods from short-term rentals and many neighborhoods were not zoned accordingly.
Former MSLC president Linda Yates, mayor of North Port, shared an article with MSLC members about state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filing a bill that would eliminate any ordinances adopted after 2011 that regulate short-term rentals.
SB188 states, “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not restrict the use of vacation rentals, prohibit vacation rentals, or regulate the duration or frequency of rental of vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use, or occupancy.”
Steube also filed a bill Jan. 10 that would limit city revenue for all local business tax receipts to $25.
“This would limit the annual revenue for the town of Longboat Key by more than $95,000 and is going to be brought to the attention of the Florida League of Cities,” Yates said at the Jan. 12 meeting.
Bradenton Beach city clerk Terri Sanclemente reported Jan. 12 at a department head meeting that the city had collected more than $57,000 in business tax receipt revenue since August.
Also at the Jan. 12 MSLC meeting, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon read a letter drafted by Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson on behalf of the barrier island cities — Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and the town of Longboat Key — asking the state to reconsider home rule for short-term rentals.
“I’m not sure why the right to rent is deemed OK, but the right to live peacefully is not,” the letter states.
MSLC board member and Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Chappie thanked Shearon for reading the letter and said MSLC members need to “show a stronger effort to get this terrible law changed.”
“This lack of home rule has destroyed neighborhoods and is destroying communities,” Chappie said.
Yates said Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, has filed a bill that would return home rule and the ability to regulate rentals.
The bill — HB6003 — states, “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of vacation rentals.”
Yates said it is important for the MSLC board to show support for HB6003.
Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen presented a letter to Steube she drafted for Holmes Beach commissioners, asking for a return of home rule.
Peelen said she hopes the Holmes Beach letter will complement the letter from the island mayors read by Shearon.
Peelen’s letter claims the proliferation of large rental homes in residential neighborhoods has caused residents to “vote with their feet — moving off-island rather than living next to a hotel,” citing a 20 percent decrease in Anna Maria Island voters in five years.
“The more the residents leave this island, the less it will have the character it now has,” Peelen read.
The board agreed the MSLC would draft two letters to Steube — one regarding the bill for short-term rentals and the other regarding the bill limiting local business tax receipts, and that each city in the MSLC should do the same.
The motion passed unanimously.
The board also motioned to draft a letter to Richardson supporting his bill, which also passed with a unanimous vote.
The next meeting of the MSLC will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 9, at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road.
ManaSota League of Cities elects officers
The ManaSota League of Cities elected its 2017 officers at a meeting Jan. 12.
Palmetto Commissioner Brian Williams succeeds North Port Mayor Linda Yates as MSLC president.
Sarasota Mayor Willie Charles Shaw succeeds Williams as vice president.
Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff was elected treasurer and will assume the position Sept. 14, before the end of treasurer Venice Councilman Kit McKeon’s term.
All officers were elected in a unanimous vote.