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Face it: the rental ordinance imposed on us by Marco Island City Council members Joe Batte, Larry Sacher, Ken Honecker and Amadeo Petricia is a mess. The thinking that created it, the hidden agenda, the details in it and the process of adopting it — all are a mess. Batte's recent guest commentary is symptomatic.

The thinking

Somehow proponents of the rental ordinance believe that requiring someone to register and get a license to rent their property puts the city in a position of authority to revoke or deny a license in response to repeat complaints and hence to stop rental at a particular property as an unlicensed activity. We doubt it's so simple. We're sure it's going to be expensive and litigious. First, exercising a constitutional property right (to rent or dispose of property) does not require any permission or license from any government in our opinion, nor should it. Second, taking property rights in Florida is further controlled by the Burt Harris Property Rights Act put in place to stop these kinds of constant government incursions of rights. If government takes a property right by it's action, it has to pay for it. Period. Third, many of us believe more government is NOT the solution – so why create a complex discriminatory solution to a small problem? Does the thinking that created this Ordinance trouble anyone?

The hidden agenda

This council used city money to hire a lobbyist who went to Tallahassee to remove existing restrictions in state law prohibiting municipalities from regulating rentals. This then allowed the Marco Island City Council to potentially "regulate" rentals. The majority of the council did this without notifying anyone, without issuing any reports, without giving any public notice of what they were up to- at least we found no public record of it in our quick review of Council material. Immediately once that state law changed, this city council moved forward to adopt an aggressive ordinance they had substantially ready and waiting. This was a preplanned attack on your property rights, orchestrated by certain council members and their supporters. Does this agenda trouble anyone?

The details

Does anyone seriously believe an owner renting property should have to keep record of the make, model, year and license plate number of a renter's car? For what purpose we ask? Holding an owner responsible financially as well as legally for the behavior of the renter is absurd. Yet, on this detail and premise is the foundation of the attempt to tie repeat rental issues at a property to owner fines and ultimately to remove an owner 'permission' to rent. We're still not clear why an owner and the renter have to consent to City personnel entering a property 'upon request'. For what purpose? Existing Noise, Trash, Fire codes already govern items repeated in the Rental Ordinance. And what's this detail about an owner or contact having to be available 24 hours a day on 1 hour notice to respond to a complaint – and report back to city within an hour? Seriously? Our Police do an excellent job of responding quickly to urgent matters. We could go on. Do these government regulatory demands trouble anyone?

The process

Many of us came to believe after several public hearings at Council that these were only a formality. We believe the Council majority already had their agenda, decision and just had to procedurally go through the hearing process. To ease that process, the majority adopted an Ordinance in March when many more voters were on the island, then later voted to reconsider it and more restrictively amended it in May when many voters had gone home. Does this process trouble anyone?

It troubles me and the many law abiding voter and non voter property taxpayers my rental company represents. It clearly troubles a number of residents, citizens and voters – including many who don't rent their property at all! That is why we organized a Petition as authorized by Marco City Charter. And for that we have Mr. Batte's rant about diseased special interest groups. Does that behavior trouble anyone?

Paul Tateo is a member of the Committee in Support of Marco Island Referendum Petition on Rental Ordinance 15-01.

Reach Tateo at rights@mymarcoisland.com.

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