MAILBAG: More rental ordinance letters to the editor
Consider Charlotte Roman proposal
(This letter was sent to the Marco Island City Council and copied to the Sun Times.)
You have been on the receiving congratulations as well as of condemnations for your efforts to provide a suitable Rental Ordinance for Marco. Last week's decision provided an ordinance, but it also provided animosity between our condominium and our single family home communities.
According to local news reports, Counselor Ken Honecker will move for a reconsideration of that issue at Monday's council meeting. If successful, and if a discussion of Marco's short term rental problem ensues, it would be extremely helpful if counselors familiarized themselves beforehand with an action that took place at the Planning Board Advisory Committee meeting of 21 November, 2014. At that time, and under the able chairmanship of now-magistrate Monte Lazarus, a simple but effective five-point ordinance proposal was forwarded by Planning Board member Charlette Roman.
Her proposal was enthusiastically received by the Planning Board, but its greatest significance was that it received applause from both, yes both condominium and single-family home owners and still addressed the short term rental problem plus the city's need for a data base. A rare win-win solution. However, for reasons that one can only wonder about, the Roman five-point proposal was set aside in favor of the overreaching "Marathon Rental Ordinance" that city council still struggles to scale downward. Bitterness prevails, despite council's laudable effort to convert the initial ordinance into a reasonable legislation.
It is my sincerest opinion that all city counselors would be well advised to review the video of that 21 November 2014 Planning Board meeting prior to Monday's city council meeting. Some workable, reasonable concepts will be found just within its first ten or fifteen minutes. Most importantly, Charlette Roman's ideas appeared acceptable to the entire Marco community. Careful consideration of the Roman Proposal could be a very rewarding effort for our island.
Big government at local level
We Marco Islanders love our big and intrusive government even at the local level.
It is ironic, how we fiscally conservative and mainly Republican Marco Islanders love big and intrusive government, even at the local level. What more current and vivid example exists than our recent short-term rental ordinance. In reading the nine-page epistle, you would think Marco Island is an inner-city ghetto with the results of unsavory slumlords oozing from innumerable deteriorating and delapitated tenement buildings.
If it is not the case that we have an endemic problem, but that there is an occassional violation by weekly renters not being sensitive to parking, trash or noise restrictions, it seems to me that we have enough laws already on the books to handle these actions without the need for expensive and intrusive registration, inspection fees, reports, new and separate occupancy restrictions and other red tape. But – then it is kind of exciting to see instituted a whole new job-creating bureau within our local government to control this new-found problem.
Massive government overreach
I am a single-family homeowner and full-time resident of Marco Island. I am against the rental ordinance in its entirety for several reasons.
First, I feel it is massive government overreach. With that being said though it is clear problems exist. Citizens spoke loudly both for and against an ordinance and many offered possible resolutions, ideas, suggestions etc. Although some were considered, it seemed most were not, I do believe, due to time constraints, or frustrated councilors, many important factors were overlooked or ignored. Rather than prolong a vote to get it right the first time the ordinance was pushed for a vote, brought back for a revote, and clearly ended negatively.
The argument for a rental ordinance was to address noise, trash, parking and occupancy, yet no hard numbers/facts were available to back the need for an entirely new ordinance. Each already have existing laws/rules that could be modified accordingly. Rather than address and adopt updated ordinances followed by a thorough review period, a new ordinance is adopted that goes far beyond addressing the main areas of concern.
In 2011, I was in a position where I had to rent my home (in order to pay bills/taxes) which lasted about eight months. I did not make a fortune as some councilors may think but was able to continue ownership while attempting to sell my home out of state. During the 8 months, my daughter stayed for one week and was visited by police for noise. At the time, I spoke to Marco police and learned that they had record of additional noise complaints. I found that while my house was rented the police were called for noise, however, I was never notified. This is where I feel a strong noise ordinance could effectively deal with this type of complaint, rather than a blown up rental ordinance that requires fees, inspections, registration, and additional government employees. As an owner, and knowing some of my neighbors, I would've addressed the noise complaints immediately only I was not aware. I believe that most, if not all, of my fellow citizens would agree to this and not allow for the noise issues to continue.
It is my belief that if a new ordinance is necessary and all other options have been thoroughly reviewed the next steps would be to ensure that it will be effective and enforced. I also believe that before adopting new ordinances that a governing body should be able to assure its citizens, with a high degree of confidence, that all current ordinances are being enforced as mandated.
This is where I disagree with the adoption of any new rental ordinance, aside from major government overreach, I feel (many agree) that many of the city's ordinances on the books, while may be well written, are not being enforced or enforced completely or to the extent they should/could and are technically responsible for.
Rather than making a blanket statement that some rules/ordinances are not being fully enforced I have provided just a few examples to back my reasoning/concerns.
1) Personal experience - codes/ordinances pertaining to building codes not being enforced. Although most of the employees are gone many of the same bad practices continue which include non-compliance of the building codes/rules/ordinances.
2) Law/ordinances for variances to docks. Decision to approve a variance for one citizen harmed another citizen. Had the city followed and enforced its own ordinance this would not have occurred. Last I heard, the city is not taking responsibility
3) Law/ordinance for variances to flood elevations for new home. Homeowner had to apply for a variance ($1,000 cost to homeowner) due to the elevation being wrong. Had the city followed its own laws/ordinances to the extent required the homeowner would never have reached the stage that required a variance. Luckily for the homeowner, the home was above flood elevation so a variance was possible. (Another similar event occurred where the home was below flood elevation and I believe may still be in the courts today)
It seemed clear there were too many outstanding questions, concerns, and disagreements (even amongst councilors) surrounding the ordinance that it should have been halted in its track. I also wonder why council did not even consider a sunset provision which could've eased some of the tension. I've seen numerous issues come and go and many back again that have not passed for the same reasons. I've seen lots of money thrown into studies yet still are being looked into.
Please know that as a citizen of Marco for five years I can say with confidence that many things have improved since first moving here and I firmly believe the new city council is to thank for this.
With that being said though I would bet we all agree that, as a city, there is still lots of room and need for improvement.