ST. PETE BEACH — Single family homes now can be rented out by the month to tourists under the city's present rules.
Tuesday, the City Commission plans to change that — or, actually change the rules back to what was in effect before the Pinellas Planning Council recently decided to rewrite the definition of a temporary lodging.
When the city amended its Land Development Code to be consistent with countywide planning rules, the county's definition went into effect.
"As a consequence, rental tenure periods of as few as 31 days are now permitted in all residential districts," Community Development Director Karl Holley told the commission.
He said such short-term rentals are "inconsistent with maintaining the quality of a single-family resident environment."
Under the county's old definition of temporary lodging, single-family property owners were prohibited from renting to transients for less than three months (90 days) at a time.
The new definition says temporary lodging covers only rentals of 30 days or less.
The only way the city can make their rules tougher than the county's is to put in place a new ordinance setting different criteria for temporary lodging.
The proposed ordinance to be considered by the commission Tuesday would set a minimum short-term rental period of 90 days for all homes in the RU-1, RU-2, RLM-1 and RLM-2 zoning districts.
The only exceptions are those homes in special overlay districts where 30-day minimum short term rentals are allowed. Overlay districts are in place in Pass-a-Grille and the Upham Beach area.
Originally, Upham Beach was not included in the ordinance, but Commissioner Linda Chaney asked that it be tabled until the effect on that area could be determined. The revised ordinance to be considered Tuesday now includes Upham Beach.
The commission also asked the city administration to step up enforcement of illegal short-term rentals.
Holley said the city does enforce the ban, but primarily relies on residents to report violations.
"With the downturn in the economy, we will see an increase in short term rentals that will be an increasing problem," said Commissioner Christopher Leonard during a commission discussion earlier this month.
Maintaining the status quo is important, he said, to preserve property values and ensure that hotels are not forced to compete with single-family homeowners for tourists' business.