Sarasota senator defends vacation rental rollback bill

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W. Gregory “Greg” Steube is a Republican member of the Florida Senate for the 23rd district, encompassing Sarasota County and western Charlotte County, since 2016. He termed out after three terms in the Florida House of Representatives, 73rd district, serving the Sarasota-Manatee area 2010-16.

Regulations curtailing the effects of short-term rentals on long-term residents are at risk.

Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed a bill Dec. 16, 2016, that would prevent local governments from enacting new regulations specific to vacation rentals and would roll back vacation rental ordinances adopted after 2011.

Steube’s proposed bill — 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.”

Currently, cities can adopt new ordinances to regulate vacation rentals. However, according to state law, local governments cannot regulate frequency and duration of stay.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to treat one owner differently from another because of the way he’s handling his property,” Steube said Jan. 19. “That’s not the way our state should be operating.”

He cited 35 Bert Harris claims in Anna Maria, saying, “Anna Maria is a perfect example of what happens when local governments challenge private property rights.”

In April 2016, Anna Maria enacted a vacation-rental ordinance that spurred demands for compensation or restored rights, mostly due to the government limits on occupancy.

In response to a question regarding the diminishing resident population on Anna Maria Island due to the proliferation of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, Steube said, “The cities can continue to adopt ridiculously inordinate ordinances that burden private property owners, but they’ve got to do what is uniform across the board,” Steube said.

However, Steube also said, “They can make their noise and occupancy ordinances, but I don’t see how they can police these things,” referring to the island municipalities. “The government should not be that intrusive in people’s lives.”

“I’m just trying to make a uniform policy across the state to give people their constitutional property rights,” Steube said. “You can’t force people to live in their homes.”

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Ralph Cole said he views short-term rentals as commercial activity, which municipalities should be able to regulate.

“I think that when you do transient rentals, it becomes a commercial operation,” Cole said. “If you are requiring people who own short-term rentals to have a state business license, what’s the difference between that and operating a motel or bar, which are both commercial?”

Bradenton Beach officials are considering a measure similar to VROs in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach. The transient public lodging establishment ordinance would allow “transient use of residential property” upon issuance of a license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation along with a city business tax receipt and a yet-to-be-enacted TPLE license.

“I want Steube to tell me that this is not a commercial use,” Cole said. “I disagree.”

Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Chappie said he hopes Steube will consider why people choose to live in certain communities.

“People move into certain areas, be it a homeowner’s association, an unincorporated city or a municipality, because of the way that community operates, with the ability to make rules and regulations as an agency,” Chappie said Jan. 19. “We need to protect everyone’s rights — not just individuals looking for an investment.”

5 thoughts on “Sarasota senator defends vacation rental rollback bill

  1. Gary McMullen

    This letter is to express my extreme opposition to the unnoticed lowering of the speed limit on Manatee Avenue on the bridge and into the City of Holmes Beach.
    Congestion has been an issue for many years. This unnecessary action adds to the wait time and frustration of all who live and/or visit the island. The lowering of the speed limit from the public beach to the marina was also without notice and also unnecessary. The reason stated was for student safety. This was disingenuous as there is a highly regulated school zone complete with flashers, signs, cones and Holmes Beach police standing by to assist with students crossing.
    I travel this section at least twice daily during school hours and rarely see a student crossing or on the sidewalks. Most of the students are dropped off and picked up by vehicles. The police also allow vehicles to park alongside the street during pickup times and this is unsafe as many of the vehicle’s wheels are on the roadway adding to the congestion as travelers have to negotiate around the parked vehicles.
    Tokager maintains that this stretch is not a speed trap but I have seen as many as 5 Holmes Beach police vehicles parked on the side streets waiting to ticket motorists. And if it truly is a safety matter, why not restore the old speed limit during summertime when the students are out of school?
    I guess my question is; can the mayor or commissioners control Tokager? It seems not. No reporting in the papers ever stated that either speed trap was noticed, in any way, in the papers. In fact, Tokager didn’t even notify the mayor or commissioners that he was going to set up the school zone speed trap. The reporting is also clear that he requested the speed limit lowering from DOT without notifying any city official either. It has been over a year that this has been going on before DOT agreed to his request.
    What happened to serving the will of the people? The chief is out of control. The mayor and commissioners should be embarrassed to be so ignorant of what he is doing in their own city.
    This letter is being sent to the mayor, commissioners and both newspapers in the hope that reason and common sense will finally prevail in Holmes Beach.
    Thank you,
    Gary McMullen
    Anna Maria

    1. bonnerj

      If you read the city charter, you will find no reference to approval from the city to set and post speed limits on State Road 789. It is solely in the hands of the Florida Department of Transportation. The DOT study analysis for Manatee Avenue and the bridge is public record and DOT engineers used their judgment based on factual evidence to lower the speed limit. What you will find in the charter under the duties of the chief of police is the responsibility of traffic engineer. He oversees public safety and he backed up the first instance when he lowered the speed on Gulf Drive from the Manatee Public Beach to the Gulf-Marina drives intersection with a traffic study. The people don’t decide the speed for the roads, it’s not a legislative matter. And for the safety of everyone, I’m certainly happy YOU do not set speed limits on Anna Maria Island. — Bonner

  2. Tyler

    Kudos to the Senator. It’s about time common sense prevailed. This Issue is about a bunch of grumpy busy bodies. Perhaps if they spent more time cleaning up their own properties and less time worried someone might be helping grow jobs and tourism the island would be a better place.

  3. Reed Mapes

    I personally know of 2 more families that live in BB that are moving off the island. Last election 570 people voted. How many of those voters want to help run the city and be on boards. Both of those families are on city boards. Won’t be long before there is no one here to run the city. Who then get to run the city. Will the state or manatee county take over.. … So we will have a commercial island.

    Don’t kid yourself or anyone else. This is all about the state collecting sales tax. Running commercial establishments in residencial neighborhoods is wrong..

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