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Home Vacation Pinellas County mayor and others ask Gov. DeSantis to veto vacation rental bill

Pinellas County mayor and others ask Gov. DeSantis to veto vacation rental bill

by Staff

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla. — John Pfanstiehl is often reminded of why he lives in Indian Rocks Beach.

Monday was one of those days. A comfortable sea breeze wafted through his picturesque neighborhood as a group of talkative parakeets fluttered across the clear blue sky above his home. This is paradise.

“It’s not just the weather,” he said. “It’s the people. We know so many wonderful neighbors.”

Over the past few years, however, he and others have had problems with some of their other neighbors — the very temporary ones who rent out homes here short-term through sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

“People drunk coming home pounding on people’s doors because they don’t know which house they came out of,” he said, in part. “Noise all the time. Lights on all night long.”

Those problems and others pushed the City of Indian Rocks Beach to pass an ordinance last year that regulates vacation rentals in various ways. The city ordinance sets rules for both the people who own and those who rent them.

“We have absolutely noticed a difference,” said Mayor Cookie Kennedy. “I really think that it has really calmed down in our community.”

However, many of those rules could soon be rendered null and void. State lawmakers in Tallahassee recently passed a bill that gives the state more control and preempts a local government’s power to regulate things like a vacation rental’s quiet hours or overnight occupancy limit.

“Very disappointed,” Kennedy said. “It’s not an issue that should be at the hands of the state government.”

Supporters of the bill, like sponsor Sen. Nick DiCeglie (R-Pinellas), has said it will provide the state uniformity and allow for the regulation of vacation rentals without allowing certain local governments to over-regulate them.

“Many times, local governments are not taking that balanced approach. They want to do whatever they can through these ordinances to stop these from operating altogether,” said Sen. DiCeglie.

The bill does set statewide overnight occupancy limits and allows local governments to maintain a registration system. However, with other protections reduced and diminished, Pfanstiehl hopes DeSantis will veto the bill that he thinks will hurt his neighborhood if it becomes law.

“They really oughta name this bill the ‘Party On Bill,’” he said.

The bill also includes exemptions for Flagler and Broward Counties (though some senators have said the exemption will only apply to Flagler). That’s another reason Pfanstiehl and others hope DeSantis will veto the bill.

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