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Anna Maria to require pool alarms at rental properties

ANNA MARIA – The city is in the process of adopting a new pool safety ordinance that will require pool alarms at all residential rental properties.

“We’ve had some near tragedies with regard to pools and little children,” City Commission Chair Carol Carter said before City Attorney Becky Vose presented the first reading of proposed ordinance 22-900 on April 14.

Carter was referring in part to a recent incident at a vacation rental in the 100 block of Crescent Drive.

“The child was in the pool maybe 30 seconds to a minute. His uncle saw him in the water and pulled him out. He was throwing up water and out of precaution was Bayflited to the hospital,” Manatee County Sheriff Office Sgt. Brett Getman said after the meeting.

Carter was also referring to an incident in February when a 2-year-old boy nearly drowned before being rescued from a vacation rental swimming pool in the 200 block of South Bay Boulevard.

“The victim was observed in the pool, pulled out and EMS performed life-saving measures. The victim was flown to a nearby hospital and he was alive,” Getman told The Sun soon after the February incident occurred.

Getman told the commission that both vacation rental homes now have functioning pool alarms.

Pool alarms can be attached as door sensors that alert adults of a door being opened that leads to a swimming pool. Other pool alarm/motion sensors sound an alert when someone enters the pool water.

Door sensor alarms can be purchased at Amazon.com for as little as $24 and water motion sensors range in price from $120 to $635.

The ordinance Vose originally presented on April 14 proposed requiring pool alarms at all properties with swimming pools. Based on pushback and feedback from the commission and concerns about targeting short-term rentals only, Vose was asked to revise the ordinance so it applies to short-term, long-term and annual rental properties, but not to permanent residences and other non-rental properties.

Regarding enforcement, Mayor Dan Murphy said short-term vacation rentals are inspected every year as part of the city’s annual vacation rental licensing process and pool alarms will now be included in those annual inspections. He noted long-term and annual rentals are not inspected by the city.

According to the proposed ordinance, “Where a portion of a building acts as part of the barrier for a pool, all doors and windows forming such barrier shall have an alarm installed with its actuator at least 54 inches above the standing surface immediately adjacent to the window or door. All doors must be self-closing and latching.

“In lieu of the window and door alarms mentioned above, a floating alarm may be used. This alarm must be audible to the occupants inside of the residence as well as the adjacent properties. In addition, a ‘Kiddie Fence’ may be used in lieu of the previously mentioned items. All of the items may also be used in connection with each other,” the ordinance notes.

“If a violation of this article is found at any location that rents real property to the public, no rentals shall take place at such location during the period between five business days after a notice of violation was issued and the date the violation was cured. If rentals take place during the period of time when such rentals are prohibited, each day of such rental shall be deemed a separate offense, punishable by a fine of $500 per day,” according to the proposed ordinance.

Commissioner Jon Crane opposes the ordinance.

“The responsibility is the parents and I hate to get into the business of regulating how parents deal with their kids,” he told the commission.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of Vose revising the ordinance to address rental properties only and bringing it back for second and final reading and adoption on Thursday, April 28.

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