Courtesy of The St. Augustine Record
Published March 20, 2020
County commissioners unanimously moved forward plans to
create vacation rental restrictions.
The vote at this week’s meeting moves forward one of two draft ordinances
presented to them as options — they chose the version with more restrictive
rules for vacation rental operators.
The ordinance will come back the Commission for review.
Some vacation rentals would be exempt from the regulations: those in the
county’s jurisdiction that are west of the Intracoastal Waterway,
multi-family buildings governed by a property owners association or
homeowners association, and owner-occupied units and owner occupied
The ordinance would require, among other things, annual inspections, a
maximum occupancy of 16 people per vacation rental, at least one parking
space per 3 guests and a minimum number of trash cans based on the maximum
occupancy of the rental.
Commissioners cited a need to balance the interests of property owners on
different sides of the vacation rental issue.
They heard from several people who supported adding restrictions and those
who opposed them or cautioned against over-regulating the matter.
Commissioner Paul Waldron said he supported regulations that weren’t too
intrusive but would also give people a sense of what to expect in their
neighborhoods. He also said he doesn’t want rules that are costly to
Commissioner Henry Dean said a friend of his who lives in St. Johns County
has become surrounded by short-term rentals.
While Dean said he agreed that less regulation is better in general, there
are times when reasonable regulations are needed to protect property rights
of existing homeowners and the fabric of their communities.
“I am watching it be destroyed,” Dean said.
Blocker said the issue presented a challenge of balancing property rights of
families who are concerned about the character of their communities and the
rights of people who are renting a bedroom or two on their property to
supplement their income.
“So that’s a tough balance, and it’s one that really affects everyone in the
community,” he said.
The city of St. Augustine recently approved a series of vacation rental
Among other things, the rules will require registration, an annual
inspection, life safety equipment, one parking space per bedroom anywhere in
the city outside of Historic Preservation zoning districts 1-4, with the
option to apply for an alternative parking plan if needed; and a maximum
occupancy of 12 people per vacation rental.
The city of St. Augustine plans to start collecting registration fees in
July and start full enforcement of the rules in October.
City officials had been concerned that the state would eliminate the new
State legislators were considering pre-empting local governments from
regulating vacation rentals and putting that power at the state level.
But that effort didn’t succeed this legislative session.