Marco Island residents complain about loud renters: 'We can't take it anymore'

Homeowner Tom Bak speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on Aug. 17, 2020.

Marco Island City Council voted unanimously to instruct staff to revise its noise ordinance after residents complained about loud renters and code enforcement.

Tom Bak, who lives in Bonita Court, said on Aug. 17 the visitors who rent the property next to his house make too much noise.

"There is a hotel next to me!" he said

Bak said the homeowner was fined for $250 in February but had yet to pay the fine.

"This gentleman has absolutely no incentive to follow any kind of rule," he said.

Bak said the state should allow the city to have more control over short-term rentals.

Marlin Winter, home and rental property owner, speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on Aug. 17, 2020.

Last year, the city received 377 noise complaints resulting in 281 notices of violations, according to police Capt. Dave Baer. As of mid August, the city had received 604 complaints resulting in 192 notices.

Baer said first-time violators are fined $250 while repeat offenders are fined $500 or more, depending on the severity of the situation.

State law defines how much the city can fine people, Baer said.

The current noise ordinance, adopted in 2015, is subjective because it applies all day long, not just at night, and does not clearly define what is a noise violation, said Marlin Winter, who owns a home in Perrine Court and a rental property on the island.

"The code noise ordinance in place on this island has consistently led to subjective decisions that will ultimately impact tourism, our economy and the special island we live in," he said.

Homeowner Linda Goslee speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on Aug. 17, 2020.

Linda Goslee, an island resident for 15 years, said she is "anti-loud music" but not "anti-renters."

"When my husband and I are having dinner at 6 p.m. outside on my lanai, I want to be able to hear him talk," she said.

Goslee said she has trouble reporting noise complaints to the police.

"We got a problem with enforcement," she said.

Bernie Greichen said there is a rental home on San Marco Road that plays loud music during the weekends, so much that it makes the windows of her house rattle. 

"We can't take it anymore," she said at the City Council meeting. "We came here for peace and quiet, not jungle music."

When asked on Aug. 24 what she meant by “jungle music”, which could be considered a pejorative term, Greichen said she was referring to salsa music.

“It wouldn’t matter to me if they played jazz or rock and roll," she said. "It’s the noise that when you sit down in your lanai and you are trying to watch the TV you can’t hear your own TV."

Greichen said police officers "are doing their jobs." 

Mark Morze, property manager with iTrip Vacations, said he installed a noise detection system that monitors noise inside and outside home rentals. If the noise "reaches a certain threshold for a sustained period of time," the system alerts him via text message.

"I put the system in place because I want to make sure I respect the rights of the neighbors but also that the guests get a fair hearing as well," he said.

Morze, who spoke before Greichen, said sometimes he gets complaints about renters but after checking the system he realizes they are not accurate.

"I think sometimes it is the type of music that is being played that may be (more) annoying than the noise level," he said.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9.

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