Draft ordinance would restrict short-term rentals to commercial areas in Florida parish

Florida: Short-term rentals are set to prohibited in residential-zoned areas of unincorporated St Tammany Parish under a proposed ordinance to be put before the parish council.

The ordinance says each short-term rental would be on the hook for a $1,000 annual licence fee from the parish and the money collected would help to finance the parish’s enforcement of the new regulations.

Spurred on by complaints from constituents about short-term rentals in their neighbourhoods, some council members in recent months have pushed for the government to come up with new regulations.

Councilman Steve Stefancik said: “We’ve gotten a lot of complaints from constituents about this.”

He added that he had received complaints in his district about short-term rentals in Bayou Liberty and further north into rural areas.

The draft ordinance would restrict short-term rentals to commercially-zoned and mixed-use areas, except where the council grants special permission. It would require one off-street parking spot for each rented bedroom.

Furthermore, the owner would not necessarily have to be on site but must designate a local party to respond to complaints from guests or neighbours. Existing short-term rentals would not be grandfathered.

The proposed ordinance itself will be presented and discussed on 24 October in the Parish Council Chambers on Koop Drive near Mandeville at 6:30 p.m.

Stefancik and councilwoman Michele Blanchard said they would be interested in gathering feedback on the parish’s regulatory efforts, as the former said he understood there was still support for short-term rentals among some people.

Stefancik said it was ‘probably 50:50’ and added that parish officials recently received a letter from an opponent of a short-term rental ordinance threatening legal action.

He said: “We’re making it a zoning classification. Typically, courts have upheld zoning classifications.”

Nonetheless, Stefancik and other parish officials have said they want input from parish residents.

Short-term rentals are spread across St. Tammany Parish. Websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway offers numerous rentals in areas ranging from downtown Covington and in secluded places in more rural parts of the parish due to the easy access to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Officials in the city of Covington are also working on their own ordinance.