At the next County Commission meeting (Tuesday, June 21), staff will present the final recommended proposed ordinance covering short term vacation rentals in Indian River County.
However the Commission votes – and voting will occur after final public input on the proposed ordinance – several important points should be noted:
- The issue of short term rentals in unincorporated Indian River County residential neighborhoods only arose when the County Commission dropped a previous ordinance requiring such lodging establishments be confined to commercially zoned areas. The City of Vero Beach does not allow short term rentals in residential neighborhoods.
- The great majority of short term rental operators in residential neighborhoods operate without licenses from the state or county and do not pay required business taxes. It is estimated that anywhere from 300-600 such properties operate in the county, of which only 31 are currently licensed. The proposed ordinance is designed to bring the unlicensed operators into compliance. However, these businesses can only be regulated, not prevented, because the State Legislature passed legislation preventing counties and municipalities from further regulating the operation of short-term vacation rentals; and because the County Commission abandoned its ordinance preventing the operation of these businesses in residential areas, it cannot not now reverse that earlier decision.
- Many residents of unincorporated Indian River County are unhappy with the County Commission for allowing these rentals, which have been demonstrated to have a negative impact on property values and the quiet enjoyment residential homeowners expected when they moved to the Vero Beach/Indian River County area.
- In response to homeowners’ concerns, the County Commission created a Short Term Vacation Rental Advisory Committee (STVRAC) to address complaints by recommending new regulations meant to limit the negative impact of these businesses on residential neighbors and also bring them “out of the shadows.” However, the seven-member committee included rental property owners, a rental real estate agent and two limited regulation advocates. The chairman himself owned several short term rental properties.
- Without any vocal pro-residential homeowner advocates on the committee, several members of the South Beach Property Owners Association (SBPOA) and Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) attended committee meetings and actively argued on the homeowners’ behalf.
- The final committee recommendations did not reflect many objections and suggestions by homeowner advocates, which were either ignored or rejected by the committee.
- The committee’s recommendations then went to the Planning & Zoning Commission and approved with some modification despite impassioned and well researched objections from Dr. Miles Conway, George Lamborn and Carter Taylor of the SBPOA board of directors.
- The staff report being presented at Tuesday’s County Commission does not include objections and factual detail about short term rentals in other Florida communities that was presented to the committee and to P&Z by community representatives. It also suggests that complaints related to these vacation properties over the last four years were few in number; however, that is based solely on complaints made directly to county staff, not the Sheriff’s Department, homeowners associations or other entities.
It is now up to County Commissioners to decide which of these recommendations should be incorporated into new ordinances, or if other suggestions outside of the recommendations should be considered. Residential homeowners will have one last opportunity to influence the Commission’s final decision.
For more information on this subject, go to the Indian River County website/STVRAC meeting videos (there were six meetings in all), or review InsideVero.com coverage of this issue (enter “short term rentals” in the SEARCH box). It should be noted that InsideVero.com is the only Indian River County news organization that covered all committee and P&Z meetings on this subject.