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The Pinellas beaches issue that won’t go away: short-term rentals

Short-term rentals were debated in the 2023 legislative session and will undoubtedly resurface in Tallahassee next spring.
 
Redington Beach Mayor David Will addresses a roomful of fellow municipal officials on the subject of short-term rentals and the related matter of home rule.
Redington Beach Mayor David Will addresses a roomful of fellow municipal officials on the subject of short-term rentals and the related matter of home rule. [ JERRY STOCKFISCH | Tampa Bay Newspapers ]
Published Oct. 26, 2023

REDINGTON BEACH — Redington Beach Mayor David Will recently led a roomful of his fellow municipal officials and a few state lawmakers through a crash course in short-term rentals and the related topic of home rule.

The issue has haunted Pinellas beach communities for years, as thousands of residences have been repurposed and the state Legislature has whittled away at the state’s “home rule” concept, through which the state Constitution recognizes that municipalities can enact their own ordinances and self-govern.

In the Monday gathering, Will pointed out that the Legislature prohibited local governments from regulating vacation rentals in 2011, then under significant backlash it backpedaled a bit in 2014 to the status quo. Current law gave back the home rule authority local governments had prior to 2011, though they can’t adopt outright bans or regulate frequency or duration of rentals.

Short-term rentals again were debated in the 2023 legislative session and will undoubtedly resurface in Tallahassee next spring.

“It’s very important for local communities to be able to regulate how they see fit to maintain the residential and family character of their communities,” Will said at the event at Madeira Beach City Hall.

“My point here is to educate people on where we are right now, under the 2014 regulations and to make sure we stay there and we don’t go backwards,” he said. “I really want to help our communities strike that balance and make it clear: Let us regulate how we see fit.”