Guest Commentary: An open letter to City Council

Gentlemen:

I had the pleasure of serving on the ad-hoc committee that created the draft version of the Ordinance for Short Term Rentals that you will be considering in the near future. As I said at your recent workshop and at the Planning Board hearings, the originally proposed ordinance and its various incarnations have taken on a life of its own. It has become an incubator for more government.

In the summary provided to you by staff, it states that the city will require additional manpower for the implementation of this ordinance, estimating it will be covered by the corresponding fees. In these difficult times any and all additional taxes (fees) need to be avoided. If the city is unable to manage new legislation within the confines of existing budgetary lines, then the new legislation should not be considered, especially this one.

Throughout the meetings of the ad-hoc committee, it became obvious that there are existing ordinances which would cover the most serious violations reported by residents. They were: noise, parking issues and garbage receptacles being left out at the curb. I sympathize and share the angst of the residents who have been inconvenienced by chronic abusers. Repeat offenders need to be dealt with harshly to ensure the serenity of the community. Enacting an excessively limiting ordinance to control a handful of extreme cases is the same as the removal of an essential part of the rights of property owners and as a result weakens their options to rent their properties within reasonable norms to visitors.

The city is facing a financial crisis due to the decline in property values. It is my contention that the preliminary figures indicating a 14 percent decline in property values is wrong. Local MLS data indicates that the average and median property prices of closed sales this year compared to the same period last year have declined 25 percent and more. Furthermore, recent legislation has made it easier for property owners to challenge the appraiser’s assumptions. I believe that the over-valuation will result in a large number of challenges to the property appraiser’s estimation for Marco Island, resulting in less revenue for the city, presuming a constant millage rate.

The creation and implementation of a new ordinance that severely restricts or makes the rental of homes for the short term (once in a seven-day period) difficult will cause the real estate market to suffer a further blow. Investors will be less inclined to consider buying on Marco Island when they have limited opportunity to recover some of their carrying costs through the cash flow generated by short term rentals. The effect of your deliberations and actions may adversely impact the entire community. Short term renters are more likely to take advantage of restaurants and other services offered by businesses in our community.

I encourage you to take a good long look at your options before making a decision. I encourage you to make the necessary changes to current ordinances rather than create new ones that will produce additional expenses for the city. Put teeth into the improved existing ordinances and require your authorities to enforce them vigorously.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

George Percel

Marco Island, FL

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Comments » 1

smiley writes:

Finally, a common sense approach. Vigorously enforce the existing ordinances. Had that been done all along the offenders would have changed their ways or found a new friend in the county jail.

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