'Should Be Vetoed': Republican-Led Vacation Rentals Bill Faces Conservative Backlash

'Should Be Vetoed': Republican-Led Vacation Rentals Bill Faces Conservative Backlash

Due to fears of local government preemption, a vacation rentals bill is facing conservative backlash

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
|
March 29, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—A controversial, Republican-led vacation rentals bill targeting party houses and preempting local governments is facing conservative backlash, with one Republican demanding this legislation never be "brought up for consideration again."

Under SB 280, cities are allowed to have registration programs conforming to state rules, but all city ordinances enacted after 2011 are eradicated. Unless you live in House Speaker Paul Renner's home county of Flagler, or the sparsely populated, unincorparated area of Broward.

The bill makes a specific carve out for Flagler, allowing county regulations enacted before 2016 to be grandfathered in.

"[This bill] should be vetoed & never brought up for consideration again," Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca, who was one of 24 conservative nays on the bill, wrote on X Friday morning. "FL does many things great as a state, but we can’t regulate 400+ municipalities from as far as 639 miles away."

The measure requires the state Department of Business and Professional Registration to create a database of vacation rentals, assigning a "unique identifier" to each property, and providing money for the agency to hire just nine employees to oversee the 171,921 vacation rentals.

However, the Tampa Bay Times reported, only 53,961 of those rentals are licensed by the state, pointing to VRBO advertising 20,000 more addresses than are present in the state's current database.

"We don't want the unlicensed operators and we don't want out of control situations," Rep. LaMarca told The Floridian, explaining that the current problem of vacation rentals cannot be solved with SB 280. "But I don't want to see continuous versions of the same bill,"

"Every vacation rental bill we've ever had come before us goes too far to put the regulatory reponsibility at the state level, and I think this is one of those issues that you can't fix with a one-size fits all. Broward is not Baker County," he continued, referencing a contentious rental bill that died last year.

"I see the value in vacation rentals when properly regulated, and I think that regulation needs to come from local governments."

Though the bill has not yet reached the Governor's desk, the calls for both its veto and its signage are rising by the day. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has voiced its strong support, while the Florida Association of Realtors opposes it, two organizations, Rep. LaMarca told us, that used to work hand in hand.

"DeSantis is hearing from a lot of folks," He said. "I can't speak for the Governor, but there's a significant chance he'll consider [vetoing it]."

In a message to the Governor, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Carol Dover wrote, “While the bill is not perfect, it is a strong start. It moves us toward a robust and meaningful system to address this growing lodging sector in Florida.”

The measure also addresses "party houses" in beachfront communities, limiting overnight occupancy to two people per bedroom and two people in a common area. If there is "at least 50 square feet per person", the bill allows more than two people per bedroom and an additional two people in a common area.

The Governor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

 

 

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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