Council sets rental referendum for 2016
Voters on Marco Island will get an opportunity to either accept or reject a recently passed piece of legislation which would require the registration and inspection of all dwelling units leased or rented for a period of time less than 365 days.
When registered, the units would have to undergo health and safety inspections on an annual basis and pay a reasonable fee for those inspections and a $75 registration fee.
The ordinance had been vetted over the last year before the city’s planning advisory committee and city council and eventually passed thru council initially in early May without condominiums included.
During that time a committee consisting of Realtors, condominium mangers, private citizens and the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce was formed to provide their input on the matter, which mostly cautioned about the passage of such legislation.
At a later meeting in May of this year, the council moved to amend the ordinance to include condos in the registration process, but still allow them to opt out of the remainder of the requirements should their associations opt for that option.
Shortly after that vote a political action committee was formed which would begin the process of assembling the necessary signatures to force council to either rescind the ordinance or place it on a ballot for referendum vote by residents.
Monday’s meeting of council saw councilman Ken Honecker immediately move to amend the ordinance and remove the requirement of condominiums to register. This was seen by many as a way to split the opposition by many in favor of repeal of the legislation.
“The reason we don’t like this is because it is a bad ordinance,” said Howard Reed. “It tramples on the rights of the many while addressing annoyances of a few.”
Linda Turner of the Marco Island Property Owners Association took the opposite view.
“Potential buyers can feel comfortable knowing they are purchasing property in a peaceful and tranquil environment and not next door to a number of mini-hotels,” said Turner. “There is no proof that this ordinance will affect property values. Sanibel and Naples both have rental ordinances and their values are higher than Marco.”
Others from the committee expressed their opinions that regardless of whether the ordinance was amended, they would be back and continue their drive for repeal of the legislation.
Later, council continued debate, Councilman Honig suggested evaluating the noise ordinance over the next year and looking into a possible occupancy ordinance.
“We have too much going on to implement this ordinance, we can always come back to this at a later time,” said Honig.
The vote was finally held on amending the ordinance and that failed by a 4-2 vote with only Councilmen Honecker and Batte voting in favor and Brown, Honig, Petricca and Sacher voting against.
Councilman Petricca immediately moved to have the issue set down for a referendum vote at the March 2016 presidential primary election. This process would not cost the city financially and the ordinance would remain in suspension until after the vote next March.
That motion passed by a vote of 5-1, with councilman Honig voting no.