One of the most challenging issues facing the Marco City Council, and the professional staff within the city, lies with the debate over short-term rental homes and the impact on the “quality of life” for many Marco residents.
Issues concerning overflowing trash, noise, parking and the number of occupants within a home are front and center on the minds of residents and the seven-member city council. At no less than two recent council meetings, irate residents have appeared before councilors and their voices are escalating as each day passes.
On Monday, September 28, the members of the city’s “task force” held a Zoom meeting to hear from residents regarding their concerns and hear input from those that are suffering from the abuses in their neighborhood. They also heard from homeowners that do rent and have an interest in not seeing over burdensome regulations imposed upon them.
Other owners/renters were in agreement with wanting to see some type of “registration” of those rental homes if they felt it could be of a reasonable nature and help with the issues.
Casey Lucas, Assistant to the City Manager, explained that the meeting was to obtain input from the public. A complaint was aired at the last city council meeting as to why a “task force” was assembled that consisted of no stakeholders from within the community. This format was assembled as a result of that comment.
Lucas went over some of the questions she had received in regards to definitions, one of which dealt with whether hotels and motels are considered “vacation rentals.” Lucas explained they were not, only single–family, multi-family and condos rented for less than 30 days.
She explained the meeting was to receive input on what recommendations should go forward to the council. Lucas stated, “We have been focused on what we could do as a staff, things we could implement fairly quickly with existing resources. It would be up to council as to whether or not to implement a registration process.”
When asked whether the city could obtain data regarding existing units being utilized for rentals, she reported that the county cited privacy concerns as to why they could not according to Florida law.
Fire Chief Chris Byrne spoke to life safety concerns and reported as a single-family residence, the fire department lacked enforcement powers, their only powers extend to commercial properties and businesses. “We cannot enforce codes within a single-family home. The only vehicle which would change that would be a local ordinance,” said Byrne.
Chief Frazzano reported that they did not have a dedicated database for problems within short-term or long-term rentals in response to citizen’s comments.
It may have been a comment from local resident Hector Fernandez which was most germane to the concerns of the citizens who spoke via the Zoom median that evening as he said, “This is probably going to come down to whether there is political will on council.”