Property Managers working for fair regulation
Walton County, FL, has seen exponential growth over the past few years – both in residential and in business sectors. Short term rentals, also referred to as vacation rentals, are one of the hottest trends along Florida’s Emerald Coast.
This thread is meant to keep folks updated on the efforts of local property managers who are working diligently to ensure our voices are heard – we want fair and enforceable regulation. We also live, eat, and play in these same communities as our visitors and other concerned locals.
County Website link for STR Updates: https://www.co.walton.fl.us/1318/Short-Term-Rental-Issues
Walton County STR Playbook for Property Managers and Owners (still under construction): tinyurl.com/
Walton County STR Website for Property Managers and Owners (still under construction): https://waltoncountystr.godaddysites.com/
Where: South Walton Annex Board Room – 31 Coastal Centre Blvd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Game Plan: BCC meeting. If this ordinance is approved at this BCC meeting, it will go for final vote in July and be enacted. Time. Is. Now.
I just received the email below from Kristen – also, see attachments. I have not had a moment to look at this. I’ll review in the next 24 hours and reply with anything I see concerning as well as the notes from our meeting back on 6/15/22 in Seascape. We are last on the BCC schedule on 6/27/22:
There are some changes in this version that are new, specifically exempting rental units in which the owner lives in full time and clarifications to the inspections language. This draft also includes the changes recommended by the Planning Commission and changes recommended after legal review. Additional changes to the ordinance may or may not result from Monday’s meeting.”
I have scheduled a space in Seascape for us to meet next week. I need everyone to RSVP if you will be there or need to cancel so we can ensure the correct number of chairs are placed.
Where: Seascape Conference Room – 556 Seascape Dr, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 (Directions: when pulling into the Resort from Highway 98, let the guard gate know you are coming for the meeting at the Conference Room. Drive forward. You’ll pass by the golf course and go through the stop sign. There is a medium-sized parking lot on the corner, across from Ariel Dunes 1 & 2. . . normally bikes are out there as well. Park in that lot and walk into the small building.)
Game Plan: Review newest draft & changes. Gather a cohesive stance before the June 27 BCC meeting.
I have 2 corrections for everyone:
#1, from Kristen at Planning:
The draft ordinance is tentatively scheduled to have a first reading before the Board of County Commissioners on MONDAY June 27, 2022 (not June 28) at the regularly scheduled meeting held in the South Walton Annex. This is a first reading; it will be advertised correctly and heard again at a second advertised meeting potentially in July, pending the outcome of the June 27, 2022 meeting. Both meetings will be held in South Walton.
We have some updates! As you all are all aware, on 4/14/22, the Planning Commission approved the ordinance with the following (2) suggestions to be changed:
- Requiring an on-premise sign with the emergency contact phone number
- Reducing the required response time for the locally available responsible party from two hours to one hour (will be presented to the BCC as a recommendation from the Planning Commission) >>This means you now have 1 hour to get to your Vacation Rental (instead of 2) otherwise, you could face TBD penalties!
Attached is a release of the newest draft ordinance the Planning Department is working off of. Please review and make your notes for our next meeting. What do you like? Not like? Can’t live with?
What happens next?
- The above draft is tentatively scheduled to have a first reading before the Board of County Commissioners on June 28, 2022 at the regularly scheduled meeting held in the South Walton Annex >> If this is approved, it will go to a second reading before voting to pass
- Planning Department is continuing to work through implementation and is preparing a financial analysis of this program that will be presented to the BCC along with the proposed ordinance.
THE TIME IS NOW. In case you haven’t heard me preaching from the rooftop lately, THE TIME IS NOW (not later…)
What I need from you: If you are willing to publicly share any community involvement your business has in Walton County, please respond (DO NOT REPLY ALL!) with details. We need stories. Does your team sponsor a school baseball team? Do you donate to a local non-profit (money or food)? Anything. Everything. Give me your good PR that I can wrap into a package to show our positive footprint.
I wanted to catch you all up to speed on our continued advocacy for fair regulation in Walton County. Please keep in mind these are my personal opinions/suggestions only:
During the 4/14/22 meeting, the Planning Commission approved the ordinance with the following proposed changes:
- Requiring and on premise sign with the emergency contact phone number (included in this draft)
- Reducing the required response time for the locally available responsible party from two hours to one hour (will be presented to the BCC as a recommendation from the Planning Commission)
I have a few updates:
We had a productive meeting today. I’m so thankful for those of you who could join us and surely missed others who had prior obligations. The momentum is forward-moving and positive.
- Sergeant Mark Wendel from WCSO spoke to us about the PCB incidents and Destin take-overs. Please report any suspicious activity to WCSO/OCSO and feel free to reach out with any concerns you may have as an operator. They are here to help. We’ll hopefully see Sgt. Wendel at future meetings as this is a very important relationship to have, and he shared some invaluable insight with us. He also has some postcard-size fliers available regarding safety as well as golf cart stickers. We need to do our part and help with guest-education. This is step 1.
- Brian Kellenberger, Dir. of Beach Operations and interim TDC Director, also joined us. He had great advice and words of encouragement to our group in continuing to advocate for fair regulation.
- The group of property managers and a self-operator Owner had a great walk through of the 2nd Draft Ordinance. We took each section item-by-item (similar to our last meeting) and discussed advantages and concerns. From here, I will be populating all of our comments to each section. We are waiting to hear back from the Planning Dept on their next steps so we can plan how we need to move forward, but the idea will be that we will formulate a response letter and have it signed by as many Property Managers/Owners/Operators as we can. We need to come together as a unified voice.
Happy Thursday, Everyone! The 2nd draft to the ordinance has been posted: https://www.co.walton.
4 points to catch you up below…keeping it short and simple!
1) I wanted to make sure you all were aware of a meeting open to the public on January 28th. Please send someone from your team, or heck, send the entire gang! We need our representation here before this ordinance goes too far:
WHAT? TDC Workshop Scheduled
WHEN? January 28, 2022 at 1:30 PM
WHERE? South Walton Annex Board Room (31 Coastal Centre Boulevard, SRB)
2) There is also a survey the County is asking us all to fill out. This survey should not just be filled out by one person – please share with your ENTIRE team. It does not ask for your name/business.
3) If you aren’t paying attention to what’s happening at the state level in regards to short term rental regulation, you should be. Email me back and we can catch you up to speed. Is it fun stuff to talk about and read through? No. Will it affect your business if its passes? 100%
4) In other news, I met with Sammy from the South Walton Fire District and Jeff from Emergency Management in late December. I think it’s wise that we try to set up a meeting with these gentlemen in February. They both have concerns about short term rentals, and very valid ones. No one wants to see STR go, but they have some great feedback of things we can do to help them (which in turn saves ourselves). I’ll see what I can get coordinated and keep you all posted.
In regards to this ordinance, it seems many of us agree we don’t need it. It won’t help us solve the problems that truly exist. On the other side of the spectrum, a whole budget would need to occur for not only the registration back-end process, but also the compliance side of things – code compliance and for the SW Fire District to perform inspections. Currently, there is no budgeting for the influx of work and inspections they will have, and they, too, are plagued with short staffing issues already. We need to use this thought process to our advantage. “Can the county even manage an ordinance?”
That’s all for now – if any of you have been hard at work with other efforts, I’d love it if you shared. We’re only going to be successful if we work together!
* EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
* Fair Regulation