Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Working to Improve Quality of Life on Marco Island

Letter to the Editor

Complaints about the behavior of renters have increased dramatically in the past few months, maybe in part because Marco Island is increasingly attractive as an escape from grim conditions elsewhere. We on the City Council have heard from scores of permanent residents whose peaceful enjoyment of their homes has been compromised or ruined, and these citizens are demanding solutions. I thought it might be helpful to lay out the facts and some options.  

Most important of all is to note that we do not have the authority to limit the duration or the frequency of single-family home rentals on Marco Island. The state legislature took away that right from local governments in 2011, although cities that had previously enacted restrictions, such as the City of Naples, were allowed to keep them. Condos are able to regulate pretty much whatever the board wishes to regulate, as are the Hideaway Beach and Key Marco communities.  

What we can do, however, is to enforce existing regulations involving noise, trash and parking. Our city manager, police chief, and code enforcement officers have substantially stepped up their attention in these areas—on noise, setting standards is difficult. Should we use decibel meters? However, enforcement requires that an officer actually hear what the complaining homeowner hears. On trash, we can write tickets for bins put out early or not retrieved, but then of course we will snare the homeowner who just forgot. On parking, we canand dopatrol at night and ticket vehicles parked in the swales or blocking sidewalks after 2 AM, but we have an ordinance which allows this between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 as an accommodation to family gatherings during the holidays.  

Part of the problem is that the wheels of justice turn slowly. All cases must come before a magistrate, and currently, we only have one magistrate for our city. She holds sessions monthly, but several have been canceled because of COVID, and most recently the hurricane threat. We have the authority to hire two additional magistrates, which I have advocated.  

Under the leadership of our new assistant city manager, we have reached out to the large rental organizations such as Airbnb to request that they educate owners and renters about the laws on Marco Island. We have encouraged the printing of rules and posting them inside rented homes.  

I am hopeful that the increased efforts will get the job done, but I am prepared to discuss further steps if necessary. I would encourage all our citizens to write or call your city councilorsincluding those running for election in Novemberto demand strict enforcement of existing ordinances, even if it is difficult to do so.  

 

Larry Honig, Member  

Marco Island City Council 

6 responses to “Working to Improve Quality of Life on Marco Island”

  1. Robert says:

    Why do we allow people from Miami to come here when their beaches are closed. They come here and spread the Virus around and then they go home after they have spread the Virus. Why do we allow this to happen! During the winter we only had about 20 with the Virus. Do something to save this town!!!!’

  2. Mark strong says:

    How about modified motorcycle mufflers to create noise on purpose ? I was outside at hoots and two of them pulled up and reved them for a while it totally disturbed the peace

  3. Kymberly Matovich says:

    If homeowners rent their property they should be responsible for any and all renters actions. The homeowner will be fined for any and all complaints received during the renters stay. Homeowners should have strict rules in place and a contract signed from all renters to be respectful and follow the cities rules. Let’s make Marco Island a fun and peaceful place to live and vacation. Everyone should be respectful of each other! There is to much hate and violence in America today! Kindness goes a long way in life! Being kind makes me feel good about myself.

  4. Phares Heindl says:

    Following is an executive summary of my proposal for a short term rental ordinance I sent the long version to Councillor Honig on September 12th 2020. Contrary to what Councillor Honig is trying to say, there are significant measures that can be taken to try to help the many residents of Marco Island that are affected by this problem. Councillor Honig and city council should step aside from this issue and let the candidates present their proposals to the voters so the community can decide and support candidates actually cares enough and come up with a workable plan. Let the candidates face the voters with their proposals on this issue if they have one. After having eight years to do something why is this sudden a concern for Councillor Honig especially when he ignored my proposals.

    Executive Summary: Short Term Rental Proposal by Phares Heindl
    Revised August 22, 2020

    Marco Island has significant problems with noise and disruption to our residential neighborhoods associated with short-term rentals (STR), the so called “houses from hell.” The issue is worsening dramatically since the popularization of online rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO, in homes located in residential neighborhoods, with no onsite management. Florida property law does not allow the city to ban such rentals but does allow the city to enforce exiting ordinances to eliminate the disruption they cause.

    The attempts to dilute the existing ordinance, during discussions at the last Council meeting creates a need for urgency to protect residents whose lives are affected by STRs.

    This Executive Summary outlines my proposed policy to limit this disruption through the adoption and enforcement of legally acceptable local ordinances.

    Definitions:
    • For this proposal, the definition of short-term rentals is “guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”
    • This definition of short-term rentals does not include rooms or portion of homes that are otherwise occupied by an owner or a long-term tenant.
    • This definition of short-term rentals does not include condominium associations who have their own mechanisms to control these issues.

    Proposal: The City of Marco Island shall implement an STR Ordinance, Noise Ordinance or both that have noise provisions directed to short-term rentals. Provisions include:
    • Online registration with the City that is user friendly and carries a reasonable fee only to defray administrative costs
    • That the basic requirements of the noise ordinance must be displayed in advertisements or listings with online rental services, provided to every renter, and prominently posted in the rental property
    • A brochure to be developed that summarizes the STR and Noise ordinances and informs renter, neighbors and potential home buyers that the home is in a residential neighborhood and that nearby residents expect and deserve to be free from unwelcome disturbance
    • A requirement that the noise ordinance or a summary of the ordinance must be posted in a prominent location in the rental house along with a warning that failure to abide by the ordinance is likely to result in a visit from MIPD and possible fines.
    • A series of progressive fines, with clear enforcement guidelines, for STR properties that continue to disrupt our residential neighborhoods. The new ordinance will continue to allow fines for both renters and owners as in the existing ordinance.
    • Utilization of the City’s Public Nuisance Ordinance for STR properties that that cannot be brought under reasonable control by other means

    Phares Heindl, candidate for Marco Island City Council

  5. Phares Heindl says:

    Following is an executive summary of my proposal for a short term rental ordinance. I sent the long version to Councillor Honig on September 12th 2020. Contrary to what Councillor Honig is trying to say, there are significant measures that can be taken to try to help the many residents of Marco Island that are affected by this problem. Councillor Honig and city council should step aside from this issue and let the candidates present their proposals to the voters so the community can decide and support candidates who actually care enough and come up with a workable plan. Let the candidates face the voters with their proposals on this issue if they have one. After having eight years to do something why is this sudden a concern for Councillor Honig especially when he ignored my proposals.

    Executive Summary: Short Term Rental Proposal by Phares Heindl
    August 22, 2020

    Marco Island has significant problems with noise and disruption to our residential neighborhoods associated with short-term rentals (STR), the so called “houses from hell.” The issue is worsening dramatically since the popularization of online rentals through websites like Airbnb and VRBO, in homes located in residential neighborhoods, with no onsite management. Florida property law does not allow the city to ban such rentals but does allow the city to enforce exiting ordinances to eliminate the disruption they cause.

    The attempts to dilute the existing ordinance, during discussions at the last Council meeting creates a need for urgency to protect residents whose lives are affected by STRs.

    This Executive Summary outlines my proposed policy to limit this disruption through the adoption and enforcement of legally acceptable local ordinances.

    Definitions:
    • For this proposal, the definition of short-term rentals is “guests more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”
    • This definition of short-term rentals does not include rooms or portion of homes that are otherwise occupied by an owner or a long-term tenant.
    • This definition of short-term rentals does not include condominium associations who have their own mechanisms to control these issues.

    Proposal: The City of Marco Island shall implement an STR Ordinance, Noise Ordinance or both that have noise provisions directed to short-term rentals. Provisions include:
    • Online registration with the City that is user friendly and carries a reasonable fee only to defray administrative costs
    • That the basic requirements of the noise ordinance must be displayed in advertisements or listings with online rental services, provided to every renter, and prominently posted in the rental property
    • A brochure to be developed that summarizes the STR and Noise ordinances and informs renter, neighbors and potential home buyers that the home is in a residential neighborhood and that nearby residents expect and deserve to be free from unwelcome disturbance
    • A requirement that the noise ordinance or a summary of the ordinance must be posted in a prominent location in the rental house along with a warning that failure to abide by the ordinance is likely to result in a visit from MIPD and possible fines.
    • A series of progressive fines, with clear enforcement guidelines, for STR properties that continue to disrupt our residential neighborhoods. The new ordinance will continue to allow fines for both renters and owners as in the existing ordinance.
    • Utilization of the City’s Public Nuisance Ordinance for STR properties that that cannot be brought under reasonable control by other means

  6. Residents reminisce about when Marco Island’s vision was a residential enclave away from the larger world, businesses providing services to homeowners and guests.

    Today, Marco Island’s vision is defined by the daily rate and occupancy of unoccupied investment homes marketed for hotel overflow or short term tourist renting seeking all sort of vehicles for amusement ride experiences on roads, sidewalks and waterways.

    Noise used to be wind through palm trees and water flowing from seawalls or beach side waves.

    Today loud voices cascades over the waterways, music circulates from outdoor patios, motors race through the palm trees and drown out waves.

    Trash used to be from an animal or the wind tipping a garbage can.

    Today residents still put out trash cans and some get tipped by animals and wind, but what spills out is litter residents pick up from swales, pluck out of shrubs-trees or scoop from the waterways when floating by.

    Parking issues were seasonal, too many cars from holiday gatherings or the RV parked in a driveway.

    Today parking issues are all year staging bicycles-electric carts-scooters in swales for rent, vehicles knocking over street signs-trees, ignoring enforcement at selective locations and swarm parking when investment homes marketed for hotel overflow or short term tourist renting occupancy is high.

    That is today’s reality.

    Councilor Honig points to homeowners as somehow a limitation to enforce laws.

    “…However, enforcement requires that an officer actually hear what the complaining homeowner hears…”

    “…On trash, we can write tickets for bins put out early or not retrieved, but then of course we will snare the homeowner who just forgot…”

    “…On parking, we can—and do—patrol at night and ticket vehicles parked in the swales or blocking sidewalks after 2 AM, but we have an ordinance which allows this between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 as an accommodation to family gatherings during the holidays…”

    Or, the enforcement process limits enforcement.

    “…Part of the problem is that the wheels of justice turn slowly. All cases must come before a magistrate, and currently, we only have one magistrate for our city…”

    Calling for “…strict enforcement of existing ordinances…” requires acknowledgement of the problem, strategy to address the problem and execution of the strategy.

    As residential homes are purchased for investment to be marketed for hotel overflow or short term tourist renting Marco Island’s original development vision is eroded. Essentially, commercialization of the whole Island.

    That’s the problem.

Leave a Reply to Kymberly Matovich Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *