Updated: Aug 6, 2022
Friends & Supporters,
Greetings Friends! Council had three meetings in June—our regular meetings on June 6 and 20 as well as a capital budget workshop on the afternoon of June 20. Significantly, the city in June also debuted its new smartphone app, My Marco. The app contains a wealth of information about all matters of interest to Marco citizens, including details on hurricane preparedness, press releases, and links to connect with virtually every aspect of city government. The app is intuitive and user friendly—which it needs to be for someone like me to be able to use it. It can be downloaded from the App Store at My Marco Island.
The June 20 meeting and the capital budget workshop were fairly routine, with few items out of the ordinary. At our regular meeting on June 6, Council dealt with boat canopies (again!), short-term rental registration referendum proposal, and hurricane preparation, among other issues.
Council heard citizen comments about the unnecessary burden of getting permits to install boat canopies, which can be taken down in a matter of hours. Permits are meant to be required for permanent structures, so Council gave direction to staff to drop the permitting requirement. This should streamline the process for our boat owners to install covers to protect their property, while still assuring that the covers meet specified standards for size, aesthetics, etc.
Council heard a presentation from Chief Byrne on the steps the city is taking to be fully prepared for the upcoming hurricane season, in coordination with state and federal authorities. Extensive hurricane information is set forth on the new My Marco Island app discussed above, as well as on the city website, and I encourage all residents to familiarize themselves with these resources, particularly in the event that hurricanes or tropical storms form which might be headed our way.
Rental Registration Referendum
short term rentals have been a significant issue on the island for the past couple of years. As discussed in previous newsletters, citizens have a right to sue the city if they disagree with the city attorney’s position that the city lacks authority under State law to regulate or ban short term rentals. Citizens may also sue individual property owners who they believe are creating a nuisance to the neighborhood under the restrictive covenants included in the deeds for every single family home on the island.
A remaining area where short term rentals can be regulated consistent with state law is by enacting local rental registration ordinances. Such ordinances can help insure that property owners who use their homes for short term rentals are paying appropriate taxes, obeying appropriate safety and noise regulations, and paying a registration fee to help support code enforcement. Residents on the Island, lead by Mr. Ed Issler, circulated a petition to submit a rental registration ordinance to the voters during the Spring, and were successful in gathering the over 1600 voter signatures needed under our city charter requirements to place the ordinance on the ballot for the August 23 primary. The proposed ordinance is modeled on the Ft. Lauderdale ordinance, which is among the most strict of all the registration ordinances in the State.
The city attorney placed this item on the Council agenda for discussion at our June 6 meeting. He submitted a memo outlining a number of legal concerns about the proposed ordinance, but highlighted that Council had only three options given that the Supervisor of Elections for the county had certified that a sufficient number of petitions had been signed to place the proposed ordinance on the ballot. The city could 1) adopt the ordinance as written, 2) negotiate with petitioner to see if there was a willingness to negotiate changes to the proposed ordinance, or 3) place the proposed ordinance on the ballot as written. Before acting, Council heard from numerous citizens who spoke both in favor of and against the proposed ordinance, as well as a presentation from the pro-rental Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals speaking against the ordinance. After listening to all that input, council declined to adopt the ordinance outright (option 1 above). Vice Chair Grifoni then asked Mr. Issler whether he had a willingness to negotiate changes to the ordinance based on a number of legal concerns raised by the city attorney. Mr. Issler declined to engage in any such negotiations and instead asked that the matter proceed to a vote of the citizens on the Island (option 2 above). Therefore, Council was required to place the referendum on the ballot, and chose to do so on the August 23 primary ballot (option 3). I voted to submit this issue to the voters, as did Chairman Brechnitz and Councilors Rola and Babrowski. The matter is thus now in the hands of the voters, which I believe is appropriate.
Enjoy your Summer, whether here on the Island or wherever your travels may take you, and God bless you and your families!
Thanks again for your continued support! Please like and followmy Facebook page for the latest updates. Take care and God bless!
Greg S. Folley
940 Cape Marco Dr, Unit 2006
Marco Island, FL 34145