More changes proposed for VRC program

More changes proposed for VRC program
Mayor Judy Titsworth explains to commissioners why staff now proposes to charge $440 for vacation rental certificates and renewals. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – At their June 27 work session, commissioners continued the discussion on how to amend the city’s vacation rental certificate program ordinance, ending the discussion with some decisions made and other still up for consideration.

In previous discussions, commissioners agreed to raise the amount of vacation rental certificate initial applications and renewals from $150 to $600. During their June 27 work session, commissioners agreed to a new recommendation from city staff to lower that amount to $440. Mayor Judy Titsworth said that the new amount should cover the costs of the program without overcharging rental agents and owners. Chief Bill Tokajer said that the number was the product of updated calculations by staff and that he felt confident that with the number of rental units in the city that charging $440 per application and every two years for renewals would cover the costs incurred by the city to manage the program.

Tokajer also suggested changing the amount charged for different violations of the vacation rental program to reflect the seriousness of some violations.

For lesser violations, commissioners agreed to charge $150 for a first violation for advertising that violates city codes or ordinances, failure to list the VRC number on all advertising, failure to list the number of parking spaces on all advertising, failing to register any new rental agent with the city within 15 business days, failure to schedule an inspection within 30 days of application and failure to schedule a re-inspection within 30 days of an inspection failure, all of which offer 48 hours to come into compliance before a second citation is issued.

Also incurring a $150 first violation fine is the improper placement of a short-term rental sign on the property, which gives 24 hours to comply with city codes before a second violation and fine are issued.

Renting a property for an improper length of stay and failure to comply with any advertising requirement, including statements concerning noise in residential areas, also incur a $150 first violation.

Renting a property without a valid VRC issued by the city will incur a $500 first violation fine.

Exceeding maximum occupancy limits, advertising without a valid VRC, advertising that does not specifically state a seven-day minimum and advertising exceeding the maximum occupancy all incur a $250 first violation.

Commissioners also agreed to move forward with language suggested by Commissioner Kim Rash to better explain the city’s stance on noise in residential areas. Rash suggested putting examples on the city’s pamphlets and in the VRC ordinance required language to be posted in rental units to help visitors better understand what the different noise levels are and what is and is not permitted in residential areas.

Talks on changes to the VRC program are expected to continue when commissioners meet July 9.