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Cape to consider vacation rental regulations
October 12, 2017

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It took a while, but the Cape Coral City Council is expected to make a decision on proposed rules and regulations for vacation rentals during its regular meeting Monday at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The second and final public hearing was scheduled for Sept. 11, but Hurricane Irma pushed the vote back.

The ordinance, if passed, would establish rules and procedures to monitor and help the city to mitigate what proponents say are the impacts created by vacation rentals.

Vacation rentals present a dilemma to council, however.

While the city has found that short-term rentals of residential property tend to negatively affect the residential character of the community, they also have a positive impact on commercial business.

About 113 million tourists come to Florida annually, with a $31 billion economic impact to the state. These tourists also pay tourist development and bed taxes.

As of April, there were 3,125 properties listed as short-term rentals in Cape Coral, with the city's land use regulations prohibiting rentals to guests for fewer than seven days, a provision "grandfathered," since it came prior to state legislation in 2011.

The city council also will have to decide whether to sacrifice the city's grandfathered status. If they do nothing, there's a compliance issue with thousands of short term rentals, with rentals greater than one week still existing.

If the city approves the measure, short term rentals of any duration will exist, but with local regulatory parameters.

Another ordinance would also establish administrative fees and charges for the operation of vacation rentals.

City management recommends approval of both resolutions. However, Councilmember Richard Leon said he doesn't plan on approving either, as it heaps on more regulations.

"At the end of the day we're just adding more regulations and that doesn't make sense to me to approve that," Leon said. "We have regulations that we can't even enforce."

It has taken a while to get to this point. The city council was set to decide on the issue in May, but backlash from residents, Realtors and property managers forced them to push the issue back, first to July 25, then to Sept. 11.

Council was concerned the measure as proposed was too heavy-handed, cumbersome and redundant. Leon believes that attitude could be the same this time around.

"Why do we need to regulate things we can't control or try to get on top of? We don't have the staff or the resources. Some members of council at the time wanted to see a different ordinance," Leon said. "The majority was leery of supporting something we couldn't do anything about."

In other business, the city council will conduct two quasi-judicial hearings, one for the vacation of plat for a street right-of-way on Willow Court, the other to amend the zoning for property on Northwest 32nd Place.

The city will also decide on the annexation of a parcel of land on Pine Island Road, as well as certify the results of the primary election held on Oct. 3, and formally call for the General Election to be held on Nov. 7.

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