MAILBAG: Commentary about new rental ordinance still stirs debate
Bravo for new city rental ordinance
We feel after coming to our beautiful Island 36 years ago and permanently retiring here nine years ago, that we are blessed to finally have a city council who had had the courage to "do the right thing".
The right thing for all of the property owners of Marco Island. For sever years we have worked through the system of government and business interest to come up with a fair ordinance for all of us.
We worked hard our whole lives to be able to retire and make our biggest investment in the island we have come to love. Much to our distress after our home was built, we found out that the properties across the canal from us were rentals.
It is amazing that if a business wants to open on Marco, they must get a permit and comply with the rules of Marco. If you are renting a home or condo, you are indeed doing business out of the property. Please understand that we are not only full-time homeowners, but also condo owners who rent out our condo and we comply with all of the requirements as well as our association's rules.
Bravo to our city council members for being brave enough to stand by their oath to bring "parity and fairness" to us all. We want to personally thank those council members for passing this ordinance.
Mr. & Mrs. George Karpman
Grateful majority of council met rental issue head on
It's obvious from reading recent letters to editor that a number of condo owners don't think their rental units should be included in Marco Island's new rental ordinance. Yet unless they are, there is no way the city can be certain these condo units will pay the required sales and county taxes that other rental property owners are paying. The condo owners base their case on their condo associations and the regulations their associations may or may not impose despite the associations being no guarantee whatsoever that the necessary taxes will be paid.
It is an indisputable fact that short-term renters cause an inordinate amount of trouble for other residents on Marco. That's why councilors Joe Batte, Amadeo Petricca, Ken Honecker along with chairman Larry Sacher stepped up to address this issue despite the rudeness and outright hostility they faced. As one whose residence on Marco is flanked by rental properties, I'd like to commend these gentlemen for restoring peace and quiet in our neighborhood and improving our quality of life. My neighbors and I are deeply grateful that the majority of our council met this issue head on and we thank them.
Majority of residents support rental ordinance
City government is responsible for the well being and safety of it's citizens and visitors. City Council did the right thing by passing the rental ordinance. It is not government over-reach. Rather, the ordinance is about accountability, responsibility, safety and equality.
Prior to passage of the ordinance, those property owners who rented their homes or condos could not be held accountable. They are running a business. The proprietors can not be identified without registration. They must abide by noise, occupancy and safety legislation for the benefit of their neighbors and their property occupants. The $75 fee is not burdensome.
Condo owners can "opt out" and abide by their own condo documents. They just have to register their property. They should not be treated any differently than those who own homes and rent.
All people who rent are bound to pay the 4% tourism tax and 6% sales tax. The benefits of the taxes apply to everyone and so should the burden.
The 21 people who spoke at the city council meeting in opposition to the ordinance do not represent the majority of the more than 13,000 residents of the island.This issue has been debated for the past several months in public, at Planning Advisory Board and at city council meetings. Its passage was not done because people "were out of town."
Dr. Gerald Swiacki
'Opt in' not an option
Thank you all for your commitment to Marco Island and enduring an entire day's and evening session toward giving our citizens the best possible place to live in the country. You all do a thankless job with little compensation and many headaches.
Thank you, especially, for two forward moving venues: water rates and the rental ordinance. In terms of the water rate structure, I am pleased that you are finally moving in a positive direction. It made little sense to going backward to a Water Rate Utility Board/Committee ... as they say been there done that.
The water rates need to be the same for all of Marco's residences regardless if they are condos or single family homes. We must all pay for what we use at the same rate. Some allowances must be made to accommodate for the use of gray water that is not accessible for single family home owners. Previous council plans for the STRP program did not allow the homeowner to take advantage of the gray water option, this inequality needs to be dealt with to equal the playing field for all property owners. I feel confident that the majority of you are on board for that.
The rental ordinance -- after sitting through another evening listening to the horrible disasters that would befall condo owners if this ordinance was enacted, I finally left. Thank goodness for that, by the time I tuned in at home, reason had prevailed and the ordinance passed at 4-3. None of us would ever want our island population subjected to some of the issues that have confronted some parts of the resort areas of the Carolinas and parts of Florida where there are no rental ordinances. I sat through many Planning Board meetings and heard stories from our citizens who have homes near "renters from hell." Many were afraid of retaliation in some of our neighborhoods.
During the council meeting, I heard many cries of what condo owners call hardship. Well, if you are renting your condo, you are in a business mode and therefore are responsible to conform to the requirements of running a business; your property must be safe and you must pay the taxes due to earn that income. At a $75 registration fee, I have a hard time seeing that as a hardship. Especially, knowing what condos on this island cost and what rentals charge. I don't think that that amount of money will cause the city coffers to be bulging over with extra funds. Hopefully that amount will keep this in a revenue neutral zone.
Heard the term "OPT IN" cried out frequently, as if it were an option to follow government mandates. If there exists such an option, I would certainly NOT OPT IN to paying my income tax or any taxes for that matter, nor would I have "OPT IN" for the STRP either. But sorry guys, that option is not a part of our unit of government as I know it.
In retrospect, can't understand what some of you councilors were thinking when you didn't support rental ordinance: wondering if some of you are already positioning for the next election? Please, those of you that have stood strong do not let this issue rear its head again. Let's move on and concentrate your energy on getting the water rates equal for all islanders.
In closing, please rest assured that I truly believe that this council has worked hard to deal with the legacy of the past and has finally forged ahead in areas where previous councils chose to pass the buck. Again, I truly appreciate your time and energy that you give so freely to help our citizens enjoy this paradise.
If all Marco Island is really trying to do is eliminate unruly behavior of single family weekly rentals then all they need to do is to communicate their expectations to these tenants and that they will hold them accountable for compliance.
This can done by having all landlords provide tenants with a copy of the city's specified rental rules, document their legal address, and get a signed agreement indicating receipt of the rules, a willingness to comply, or to pay fines and any collection fees. And, fine the landlord if they can't produce a signed agreement. Problem solved -- no additional staff, no additional expenses, no advertising control, no designated contact just a distribution of information allowing easier enforcement of city codes.
All the city would have to do is create an acceptable legal document for the landlords to provide and the police to enforce. However, this will not work if council's true object is to create more bureaucracy, mandate business practices, collect more taxes, drive out rentals and expose the city to legal challenges.
It's a matter of trust
With the outbreak of emails, and letters again being sent to Marco Island city councilors, on "reconsideration" of the rental ordinance, it becomes abundantly clear that the council is again breaking trust with the electorate.
The matter of exempting condominiums was debated over many months. Deliberations occurred with considerable input of the citizenry. Condominium owners wrote letters and emails, they appeared at City Council meetings to plead their case, and they met with individual councilors to explain why including condominiums was poor public policy.
Now all of that citizen involvement and input, and the decision by council to exempt condominiums, are to be cast aside in favor of continuing a repetitive debate at a time when many condominium owners have traveled north to enjoy their summer among family and friends. Conducting "reconsideration" at a time when those most impacted by the ordinance cannot be heard, smacks of "smoke-filled back room dealings, political maneuvering, and a lack of transparency in governmental decision-making." This behavior is a major breach of the public trust.
The councilors encouraging this shameful display of political arrogance should be called to account for manipulating the legislative process in a dictatorial manner to achieve their own ends without public input. Their actions are visible evidence of intent to deceive, intent to ignore evidence presented, and intent to break promises made. Our elected representatives are arrogantly ignoring the wishes of those who elected them.
Marco Island citizens deserve better!