Why SB280 Should Pass

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District 18 Florida Senator Nick DiCeglie (Pinellas County) co-authored Senate Bill 280, along with District 19 Senator Debbie Mayfield (Brevard County). DiCeglie shared an op-ed piece he wrote about the vacation rental Bill and why he thinks it should be signed by the Governor.

(By Senator Nick DeCeglie) “Private property rights and free enterprise are foundational principles of our democracy. When our founding fathers enshrined these ideals in our form of government almost 250 years ago, they couldn’t possibly have imagined how innovations like VRBO or AirBnb would lead modern day communities to question the proper role of government in regulating the use of private property. I doubt they envisioned endless streams of drug and alcohol infused ragers, loud music, and trash disturbing quaint beachfront streets either. So here we are.

“Once again, we are heading into a new legislative session attempting to strike the right balance for homeowners, who want to live in peace; entrepreneurs, who see potential in an emerging industry; tourists, whose support drives our state’s economy; and local governments, whose best efforts to address these competing interests have been understandability inconsistent.

“I whole heartedly support the inventive spirit, spurred by technological innovations that created an insatiable market for vacation rentals across Florida. Unfortunately, the realities of living where others vacation makes this developing industry both a blessing and a curse for beach communities like my hometown of Indian Rocks Beach.

“Over the last 15 years, the industry as changed dramatically. What started out as a side hustle – renting out the family beach house for a few weeks in the summer – has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. We’ve gone from grandma letting out the garage apartment on weekends to developers and corporations buying up block after block of beachfront property for exclusive use as short-term rentals.

“There is no question that the realities of supply and demand make these investments tenable business decisions in many of our communities. Based on recent reporting from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) the number of hotel and motel licenses increased by 21 or .0004% between the 2021 and 2022 reports (From a total of 4,684 to 4,705). Meanwhile, the number of single vacation rental dwellings increased by 6,768, or almost 30% (16,564 to 23,332).

“Quite simply, small beach communities like mine have to accept the fact that vacation rentals are here to stay. What we don’t have to accept is the irresponsible and inappropriate conduct, which would never be tolerated by long-term tenants, destroying our communities and our quality of life.

“The middle ground is elusive, but it is possible.

“Next week the Senate Committee on Regulated industries will consider my legislation, Senate Bill 280, which not only provides important tools local governments need to crack down on bad actors in the vacation rental industry, but makes those options the same across the state.

Not all communities regulate vacation rentals, but for those that do, the process should be consistent. The bill creates a uniform system for vacation rental registration that protects against price gouging by setting reasonable registration and inspection fees, and designates a responsible person who is available at all times to respond to complaints or emergencies. There are fines for operating an unregistered vacation rental in an area where local government requires registration.

“The vast majority of people who occupy vacation rentals would never want to disturb the surrounding community. For this reason, vacation rentals shouldn’t be singled out a nuisances. At the same time, you don’t get a free pass just because you are on vacation. Everyone needs to adhere to local ordinances that seek to keep the peace and preserve quality of life by imposing reasonable expectations regarding noise, trash, or parking. If a vacation rental is violating those requirements, owners need to take responsibility. SB 280 allows local governments to suspend a registration for violation of local ordinances, and to revoke or non-renew registrations of chronic offenders, subject to proper notice requirements. Under the bill the state would oversee advertising platforms, which enhances consumer protections and transparency for tourists.

“These are just a few provisions of this important legislation. Unfortunately, we didn’t get across the finish line last year. Over the last few months, I’ve listened to thoughts and feedback and worked to incorporate ideas brought forward by so many stakeholders. This is a top issue for my constituents. I promised them we would get it right, and I am confident we will.”

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