Jacksonville Beach seeks controls on short-term rentals

Short-term rentals could limit occupancy to four per bathroom

Imagine a dozen or more revelers renting the house next to yours for a long weekend of partying.
Matt Lany does not have to imagine the scenario — he and his fellow homeowners have endured the chaos, noise and parking headaches that are the result of a short-term rental in his south Jacksonville Beach neighborhood.
His wife, Nancy Lany, detailed some of the problems in a recent email to the city.
“For over a year, my family has struggled to cope with the purchase of the neighboring property by an LLC that uses the property as a short term rental. The property is advertised to sleep 17 people. The property is often packed with people and the driveway is filled and cars even overflow into the street and Sunshine Park,” she wrote. “Parking and noise control have been our only recourse to hold on to normalcy in our home and neighborhood. Without these, our street would devolve into a year long spring break party.”
And officials in Jacksonville Beach have said they want to help.
But the city currently has no restrictions on short-term rentals, unlike Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. Atlantic and Neptune Beaches laws banning any short-term rentals that were passed prior to 2011 state laws being passed that block municipalities putting limits on short-term rentals. Laws passed prior to 2011 were grandfathered in under state law.
Jacksonville Beach is now drafting a law that would apply to short-term rentals, but nearly ran into a snag recently when the state house of representatives narrowly passed a law that would have taken away any city’s ability to regulate short-term rentals. The law also proposed to remove the "grandfather clause" that protected cities that had ordinances in place before the legislature preempted city’s rights.  Under that law, Atlantic Beach and Neptune would lose their grandfather status and fall into the same situation Jax Beach is in.
Lany accompanied Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham to Tallahassee to speak to state representatives and detail the need for municipal control over short-term rentals. While the house passed its measure, the state Senate temporarily postponed taking action, meaning the proposed state law banning short-term rental restrictions is likely dead this session.
That reprieve is prompting the city of Jacksonville Beach to get a law passed as soon as possible so that Lany and others like him may get some relief from corporations and others who buy residential property to rent out for weekends. Latham said officials are hoping the legislature does not undercut local efforts by gutting local limits in the future.
Under existing state law, cities can regulate nuisance behavior such as noise, parking, garbage, as well as occupancy and other life-safety issues. These regulations include maximum occupancy limits, parking standards with no on-street parking, annual inspections and registration.
According to city attorney Denise May, the city’s proposed regulations are “designed to balance the private property rights interest of all involved and regulate only that deemed necessary to preserve property values and to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of Jacksonville Beach.”
Representatives from Planning & Development, Fire Marshall, Police Department, Code Enforcement, Building Official, and the City Clerk’s office provided feedback as the bill was drafted.
Suggested regulations include:
• Requirement for registration with the city.
• Proof of business tax receipts from county and city.
• Proof of certificate of registration with Department of Revenue.
• Proof of license from Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation.
• Multiple minimum life-safety requirements to meet the standards of the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Code including:
• Smoke/CO detectors (including specialized for hearing impaired).
• Automatic sprinkler system for three stories or more.
• Maximum occupancy limitations. Proposed limits would be four   persons per air-conditioned full bathroom or one  per one hundred fifty (150) square feet, whichever is less. Maximum occupancy could not exceed 16 occupants per short term vacation rental unit.
• Off-street parking standards. Off-street parking shall be provided as one space per three transient occupants.  Garage spaces shall count if the space is open and available and the transient occupants are given vehicular access to the garage.  On-street or grass parking will not be permitted.
• Solid waste handling requirements.
• Requirement to comply with all other city regulations including noise limits, setbacks, stormwater, etc. as may be applicable.
• Initial and ongoing compliance inspections by the Building Official and/or Fire Marshall.
• Required language for lease agreements and postings.
• Designation of a responsible party available 24/7.
• Enforcement by the Code Enforcement Special Magistrate.