An Illustration of Why the Best Government is that Closest to the People

Here is a stark contrast illustrated in the following between two approaches to regulating vacation rentals. The first is Senator Hutson's defense of his amendment made in a recent Senate committee meeting claiming to solve the problem for Flagler County that elected him to office. It is vague and self-serving, but only demonstrates the lack of understanding of the complexities of the problem that are not addressed in a "one size fits all" solution at the state level. The second is a rebuttal by Greg Hansen, the Chairman of the Flagler County Commission who deals with the specifics that one would expect from the government closest to the people (and the problem).

Sen. Hutson:

Greg Hansen:

West Coast Editor Again Concludes the Best Government is that Closest to the People

The Editor of the Sarasota Observer is complementary of Sen. Steube's stand for individual rights and a rational argument. However, he points out that the 1968 constitutional amendment gives clear authority to local government for home rule and that if Tallahassee were to preempt more authority, the local "firestorms" created may be way more than the state is equipped to handle.


Home Rule Suffers a Setback in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee

In spite of over 20 local governments expressing opposition to Senator Steube's SB1400, this committee votes overwhelmingly in favor of moving it forward. Even with testimony from local officials illustrating the bill's problems with lack of safety oversight, these Senators aren't listening to those closest to the problem. Add to the mix the political intrigue of Senator Hutson who supposedly represents Flagler County which is ground zero for short term vacation rental problems who turned against the concerns of those he represents with a cleverly worded amendment. This is all well covered in the following Flagler-Live article:

Help Educate the Chamber of Commerce

Here is a link to a survey conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. It was found by one of our more active members in Flagler County. It is an opportunity to let the Chamber know your views on the issue of Home Rule. We think the Chamber is only hearing one side of this argument that is favorable to corporate interests as several local Chambers supported the past bills. Please emphasize that residents like you represent 67% of the state's sales tax revenue and only 12% is represented by tourists. Preventing local government from having the proper authority to zone their communities in keeping with local desires is not in anybody's interest. Allowing coastal communities to become tourist only meccas will discourage future retirees from making Florida their home. Please stress that you are not against vacation rentals and recognize their contribution to Florida's economy. However, investor owned entities are clearly commercial ventures that do not belong in residential neighborhoods.


An Editorial on Sen. Steube

This editorial finds merit in Steube's willingness to stand up for his beliefs. However, the article also illustrates the unfortunate part is that his beliefs are misguided and negatively affecting us all. It has been well documented that one of his perceptions about home rule is his attempt to buy rental property in Flagler County and finding out that the community had existing restrictions that forbids weekly rentals. He found this restrictive to his property rights even though he hadn't purchased the property. We agree with the conclusion of the editorial - veto the Steube bill and send him a message at the ballot box in 2020.


HB425 Passes by narrow margin in House

This article summarizes the various sides in this controversy:

Missing and conveniently overlooked in this and all arguments by the proponents of HB425 and SB188 is the fact that the state originally created this problem in 2011 by preempting all local regulation of vacation rentals. This allowed the conversion of existing homes and development of new large vacation rentals by corporate interests in what were traditionally residential neighborhoods. It is these businesses, artificially created through an industry backed state-created loophole that are being used by proponents to advocate for property rights. However, these properties are being presented in the "widows and orphans" argument that the little guy is being hurt by not being able to rent their residence.  In fact in all the testimony viewed by this committee only 2 witnesses have come forth in support of these bills. One witness was a woman who bought a second home in 2007 on a golf course. The golf course went bankrupt and she is under water on the house so has to rent it to survive. The second witness coming before Senator Hutson's Committee was allowed 6 minutes to explain how she loved having AirBnB guests in her Miami home. This was after numerous opponents of the bill were limited to 1 minute each to testify. In neither case did either witness claim that they were unable to rent their residence under current regulations. It's hard to make the leap from this testimony to bills that strip away all home rule authority from local government.