Proposed Rental Ordinance Update?

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by wrobert, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I can understand why the weddings are a big economic issue, but the occupancy still has me confused.

    They seem pretty reasonable.

    I've been Googling and it seems that many vacation areas have similar rules about how many people can occupy a unit. :dunno:
     
  2. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    IIRC it's also a fire code that the total number of people in a rental cannot exceed the number it sleeps. That of course only applies to inside the unit.

    I would venture to guess that areas that just happen to have wedding facilities are probably behind this ordinance i.e. Sandestin, Rosemary, Seaside, Watercolor, etc. Follow the money as that is what this is about. If you restrict it to areas equipped for it you've just boosted their asking price and created a premium commodity. Of course that doesn't always mean that you'll have a demand for it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011
  3. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    I agree this proposed ordinance is ridiculous. There are hundreds if not thousands of small rental units on 30A that currently advertise for and sleep more than this ordiance would allow and have been doing so forever. Just one example, there are about 80 units at Hidden Beach villas that quite comfortably sleep 4 people each. This ordinance would reduce that down to a maximum of 2 the way I understand it. It's small, but it's still larger than your average hotel room that routinely sleeps 4. Owners of these units have been doing this since at least the 1980s without harming any neighbors.

    I totally agree with WaltonIsOne. If noise and disturbing neighbors is an issue, enforce the existing noise and parking ordinances. I don't rent properties to beyond what they're capable of handling as that's bad for the property. If one of my neigbors gets too noisey, I don't hesitate to call the Sheriff's Office and I tell all my renters to do exactly the same thing. If someone is getting out of line on a beach party, I call them in. Don't come up with an ordinance that's just going to be completely stupid. This is very irresponsible.

    If you're trying to give wedding business to a select few cronies, don't screw every other small rental owner in the process.

    I strongly advise against trying to turn this into a locals vs. rental owners issue. This will hurt everyone.
     
  4. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    I'm surprised that some of the commercial interests haven't stepped up. Embassy Suites in Miramar beach would be affected by this. There suites that sleep 4 would suddenly become 2 only suites. Seems like that would cause a huge impact for them.
     
  5. Beach Runner

    Beach Runner beats on hood

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    Some aspects of this ordinance don't make sense to me. For example, I can rent a room with two double beds for four people and one bathroom at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead (Atlanta). Would this be unacceptable under the proposed Walton County ordinance?

    On the other hand, I do despise the rentals with 4 bedrooms with multiple sleep sofas that sleep 24. Too many people in one house.

    We have set a max of 10 people for our home. I don't want multiple families packing up our home over capacity with people sleeping on sofas and on the floor on air mattresses (this has happened before :pissed:). It leads to more damage because there is no accountability with that many families in one house.

    Last summer one rental group had a party at our home because it's so close to the beach. There were 25 people in our pool, plus more in the house. Apparently most of them slept over. My home is a home that we share with guests, not party central. If I had known this when it happened, I would have evicted that group early with no refund. But by the time I heard about it, they were gone.

    I personally know of many people who pile up a beachfront, one-bedroom with 4 adults and 6 kids.

    So I can see the reason for more strict rules. But don't be stricter than the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011
  6. WaltonIsOne

    WaltonIsOne Beach Lover

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    Beachrunner, you are a prime example that shows that the Short Term Rental industry can regulate itself. Short term rental property owners know how to regulate the number of occupants in an effort to look after and protect their own property investments while being concerned about safety. Self regulation like this does not cost the tax payer one thin dime. Other rental owners and agencies told me they do the same thing.

    We all know that once in a while, over occupancy situations happen, and in your case, not even Walton County Fire Marshall Bill could have stopped it as the renters slipped away after they had used already overoccupied your property.
     
  7. robertsondavies

    robertsondavies Beach Fanatic

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    i think they're exempted as a hotel
     
  8. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    For the record the current TDC director didn't order or install the signs, that was a previous regime.

    Um they charge bed tax, why would they be exempt? If that's the case then the TDC has no right telling me what to do with my 4 room hotel with common space. This could even effect some of the other hotels/motels that have, gasp, two double beds as described by BR above.
     
  9. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    As usual the powers that be are not only protecting the goose, but now they want to jack it up with steroids. Why not have an ordinance that allows the number of people a unit can actually sleep. Sure some folks have packed their units with bunk beds, but those are generally for children. To actually specify how many people can occupy a unit is going above and beyond.

    Further having read the ordinance again it only stats square footage. It doesn't state what type of square footage. That leaves it open for interpretation. So if my 4 bedroom 2,000 sq ft home has a 2,000 sq ft porch in addition do I get to sleep more people than the condo owner who only has 2,000 sq ft?
     
  10. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    What about sheds? I can fit 4 on bunks in mine. :whitetrash:

    I don't see this legislation affecting me terribly since I mostly do not exceed the occupancy that would be allowed. I have a 4 bedroom that sleeps 12 in beds (no pull outs, blow ups or bunks) and I do not like more than 12 people. I advertise 10 because I know there will be more.

    But, I can foresee problems with this legislation and lots of holes in it. Most of the rental agencies do not count babies/ toddlers in their head count (why for the life of me, I do not know- they still have to bathed, maybe more so than older children- their clothes are generally washed more after they have spilled apple juice on themselves all day or spit up) Personally, I have always counted babies in my head count because it cost me more to house them in power expenses. So, that will have to be ended in the future since the legislation doesn't differentiate between size or age.

    Also, you may be following the rules as far as occupancy based on your lease terms, but we all know people bring more on occasion (day visitors included) than the agreed upon lease terms. So, if your neighbors renters know the occupancy, and decide that the larger family is occupying too much of the community pool, or are too noisy for their taste, now suddenly will there be tourists ratting on tourists? and who is responsible if there is a fine? The legislation is vague, to say the least.

    But, is there a need for it? Most owners police their own homes or their development may have adopted occupancy rules on their own for the comfort and peaceful enjoyment of their homes and guests; although, there are always a few who really could care less, want the rental regardless what anyone else thinks or how it impacts others.
     
  11. Elephant Child

    Elephant Child Beach Lover

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    Perhaps Scooter,

    They will be doing the inspecting because they have to answer emergency calls when there are fires, pool accidents, or rip tide calls. In Grayton for instant, sometimes because of the parking at these mega overloaded homes, parking extends into streets, private homes, and even into intersections . These emergency vehicles can't get through the narrow old streets. A residential neighborhood first, overtun with commercial ventures, and arge rental homes that rent are all comercial ventures. Think about it, a home that brags it can sleep 18, has two parking spots. The same thing happens when a home is rented out for a wedding or a wedding reception or a family reunion...not only do the folks who make their permant homes have to put up with parking...but noise, music, and very happy "full of spirit" guests.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  12. Elephant Child

    Elephant Child Beach Lover

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    I see where you are afraid of fellow vacation renters maybe tattling over the abusers...ever thing about the families that live there full time...it isn't a rental that they live in, it is their permanent home... it is an ongoing weekly thing for them...the owner of the rental home is not part of the neighborhood...his property is a business...as long as it is making $$$ many of these owners don't care what goes on....they could care less about the neighborhood as long as they get their check from the rental agency.
     
  13. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    Hotels/motels are different than single family homes.

    They can put more people in a smaller space because they have to comply with stricter building and fire codes.
     
  14. slideasy

    slideasy Guest

    This may not be the best topic to get my feet wet in, but here goes:
    The county has sufficent ordinances already on the books to deal with the problems if they are enforced. Every new ordinance has unintended consequences, so I would think the best path is to enforce those already on the books before we pass any new ones.
     
  15. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    So, given that most short-term rental owners don't actually live in South Walton, what's the mechanism for having our interests considered in ordinances like this? This is not just about overcrowding at Wedding-designated rentals. I think this is a bad idea. I think it will negatively affect rental properties, property values, and tourism in the area in general. The bed taxes that my unit collects help to fund the County and services provided in South Walton. However, as a non-resident, I have no right to vote in Walton County. Does the County take into consideration opinions from the absentee rental owner community, and if so, what's the best mechanism for communicating opinions to whoever might vote in favor of this ordinance?
     
  16. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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    Actually your bed taxes fund the TDC which provides some services such as trash collection along the beach. Your property taxes actually fund the local infrastructure, fire service, sheriff, etc.
     
  17. Groovegirls

    Groovegirls Beach Fanatic

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    Send them an email or a letter. Also you can attend the meetings when you are in town.
     
  18. WaltonIsOne

    WaltonIsOne Beach Lover

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    Grovegirls makes a good point about sending letters and e-mails.

    Sorry, this is a long post answer to your question.

    It has been my experience that both county employees and the county commissioners (or a staff member) do take the time to read and act (if necessary) on issues communicated by both e-mails and letters. Also, when possible, a face to face meeting works well.

    In this particular case, you might consider writing the Commissioner in your district a short letter. And copy this letter to both the county Planning Department Head and the Head of the TDC. One of the benefits of living and/or owning property in a county with a population of less than 60,000 people, like Walton County, is that these individuals are accessible.

    I have found that the Commissioners and the county employees I have interacted with do listen to constructive input and also respond to requests for assistance when priorities and resources enable them to do so.

    This is especially the case when these county government officials or employees are treated with the same sincere respect that each and every one of us deserves and expects of them when we are voicing our views and concerns to them. Of course, we all should share our passion and knowledge with these individuals so that they can take both under consideration.

    Also, letters and e-mails are important to the process of the creation of legislation. These documents become "part of the record" that is accessible to all county employees, commissioners, and us tax payers under the State of Florida's "Sunshine Law".

    Also, something worth thinking about, when you are "looking" to help government officials make the "right decision", it is helpful to request access to county records, documents, e-mails, etc. that pertain to the creation of legislation as sometimes it might help you identify what has been discussed in previous Board of County Commissioners meetings concerning a particular topic.

    A good county web site to visit to get this information is: Walton County Board of County Commissioners Meeting Minutes Online or you can contact the Walton County Administrators office to get the 2011 meeting minutes that not available on this site yet that touch in this particular issue. Also you can visit

    http://fl-waltoncounty.civicplus.com/DocumentView.aspx?DID=3126

    to get a copy of the legislation that is up for discussion at the BCC meeting on March 22nd. (Note this was originally scheduled to come before the BCC on March 8th.)

    I have also found that signing up for "Alerts" on the County Web site telling me about the upcoming meetings in the County government is helpful.

    You often can see agendas prior to a meeting, so that you can send a letter to someone in the government "before" a meeting to discuss or vote on an issue takes place, versus trying to do something about legislation after it has already passed.

    Ok, sorry for the long winded response, but in summary, there are many resources available on the County Website and from the County Administrator's office that can make it much easier to get involved in "ALL OF OUR" local government no matter if WE are "citizens". Walton County govt. employees, or "non-resident" property owners and county "taxpayers".

    In either case, we ALL should offer our time to "guide" the County Commissioners and have a voice in matters that affect all of us.

    Walton County Government needs and will accept our help.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  19. WaltonIsOne

    WaltonIsOne Beach Lover

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    Also, the Walton County Taxpayers Association (WCTA) is a great source of information on local issues.
     
  20. wrobert

    wrobert Beach Fanatic

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    So true. And I believe that the commissioners are starting to realize that this is a bit over reaching to solve an issue that is being created by less than a half dozen property owners. Hopefully they will listen. I was in on a meeting the other day with a commissioner and someone from the local chamber and their were some really good solutions discussed to solve the problems. Now if they can figure out implementation.
     

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