MAILBAG: Letters to the editor
Good job, Monte Lazarus
After the recent code enforcement hearings presided over by special magistrate Monty Lazarus, the public responded favorably with letters to the editor and via the Marco Island Property Owners newsletter.
Having recently watched the video replay of the hearing, I strongly agree that magistrate Lazarus did an excellent job presiding over the code violation cases. He was decisive and impartial issuing no nonsense rulings while maintaining a judicial demeanor showing courtesy and respect to all parties involved. While council is to be commended for the shift to a magistrate enforcement system, give the performance of Lazarus, a former Marco Island citizen of the year, do we really need three special magistrates?
On Dec. 1 during a regular city council meeting, after discussions were held and individual score sheets tallied; Robert Pritt, Myrnabelle Roche and Lazarus were selected as special magistrates out of 11 applicants. The final tally in the selection process gave Robert Pritt 20 points, 14 points to Myrnnabell Roche and only eight points to Lazarus. Out of seven councilmen, only two, Larry Honig and Bob Brown, provided any points to Lazarus. Councilman Hong wisely and presciently voted all of his points to Lazarus. Without Honig’s “all in” vote for Lazarus, the much-acclaimed code enforcement hearing would not have taken place.
Of the three special magistrates, only Lazarus is a resident of Marco Island. Robert Pritt is from Naples and Myrnabelle Roche is from Pompano Beach. Moreover, of the three, only Monty Lazarus presented a resume of public service to our Marco Island. I am not sure why five of councilmen gave no points to Monty Lazarus but it is not too late for council to do the right thing and appoint Mr. Lazarus as the sole special magistrate.
The city’s announcement for special magistrate implied that only one person would be selected for the position. The official job posting, among other things, stated, “The special magistrate is a position that will require an estimated 10 hours per month. The rate of pay will be up to $175 per hour.”
When the selection process was over, however, there was not one magistrate who would appear monthly as implied by the job posting, Marco Island ended up with three special magistrates, one driving all the way from Pompano Beach just to hear a few code violation cases. Marco Island would be better served with only one special magistrate. Having three only induces unpredictability and possible inconsistencies into the process. Lazarus with a backup appointee or forum for conflict cases could easily handle Marco Island’s light code enforcement case load.
Having witnessed outstanding performance of Lazarus, I would urge city council to revisit its appointments and appoint him as the sole special magistrate for Marco Island.
Brent Batten’s recent Naples News “Quiet” piece regarding the short-term-rental issue on Marco Island was disappointing for the misinformation it contained. If he sincerely believes “noise” to be the primary rental problem on Marco, then he certainly hasn’t done his homework and merits a failing grade.
Yes, we on Marco have sufficient ordinances in place to deal with problematic noise, trash or parking issues, regardless of who the perpetrators might be. And yes, complaints of these natures can be and ARE addressed by Marco’s law enforcement people when reported. These are not the rising problems Marco’s City Council(s) have been trying to deal with for around seven years. If readers are ready to learn what the real, honest-to-goodness problem actually IS and one that opponents of any rental ordinance whatsoever won’t discuss, here it is: RECURRENT VIOLATIONS.
Normally, condominiums and long-term renters aren’t parties to continually repeated disruptions and so, they probably could earn a pass. But short term renters certainly are guilty. And so you see, Mr. Batten, the actual problem, as well as the question, becomes not “noise” but: “How often should a neighborhood have to tolerate calling for police action because short-term rentals cause endless, repeated violations? Once a week? Once a month? Forever, until the neighbors crack?”
Job well done
Congratulations to special magistrate Monte Lazarus, police captain Dave Baer, and the entire code enforcement department for a job well done at the Aug. 11 code enforcement special magistrate hearing.
If you did not attend the meeting, or watch it on channel 93, code cases such as illegal bed and breakfast rentals came before the magistrate and actual fines were issued. Many of the defendants were told by the magistrate that if he sees them again before him, it will be a repeat offense with a higher fine imposed on them. It is unfortunate it took so long to get an effective code enforcement department staffed with both a magistrate and actual code enforcement officers. It would appear that the days of “compliance” with a small administration fee imposed are over.
Thank you to the Marco Island City Council for having the fortitude to create the magistrate system after years of failed attempts. And, thank you to City Manager Roger Hernstadt, for turning around a troubled department and for his professionalism.
I have seen a lot of letters of complaint about the rental ordinance on Marco Island. Being a year-round resident of Marco for the past 12 years, I don’t understand the problem with the new rules.
I understand if you haven’t been paying a bed tax or weren’t in compliance with fire codes before, you don’t want anyone to catch you, but really we need a watchdog then, don’t we?
When everyone has to follow the same rules, renters will have peace of mind and competition will take care of itself because it will be fair for everyone.
Why would any responsible owner object to protecting property values and safety of their customers? If there are extra expenses due to following the rules, add a fee – hotels do.
I purchased a house in a residential area and my neighbors are respectful and would want to know if their property was being abused. As I said, residential, not commercial where the neighbors are on vacation mode every day of the year and change on a weekly basis. What about zoning rules?
As far as condos having their own rules, just add the city rules to them. Many condos are owner occupied, and I can’t imagine the owners want to deal with obnoxious short term renters or have their property values decrease or liability insurance go up because landlords aren’t following prudent rules.
There is a fine line between too much government and getting what you are paying taxes for. I’m paying taxes for paradise and I expect paradise!
WE WANT YOUR LETTERS
Send to Joe Taylor, Editor, Sun Times, 847 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145. Email to joe@misuntimes. com or call 239-450-2030.