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Indian Rocks Beach proposes changes to short-term rental policies

This issue has neighborhoods divided, with yard signs lining the streets.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Fla — The city commission of Indian Rocks Beach is hashing out how to regulate short-term rentals, like Airbnbs. The topic has created a divide between neighbors, with yard signs found on most residential streets. 

Neighbors opposed to short-term rentals claim they take away from the "small-town feel" of Indian Rocks. 

Commissioners said there are currently 283 short-term rentals. These include Airbnb and VRBO rentals.

"I mean, I used to know everyone on my street," Robert Florio said. "And now there are three [neighbors] that are remaining...I get new neighbors every three days, put it that way."

Florio said having new neighbors every couple of days means confusion over parking, noise ordinances and sidewalks. 

"Well, it's just because of the commotion and the traffic and the people are obnoxious and they walk in the middle of the street," Florio said. "Make it a little bit more difficult for these homeowners, these investors, to rent them out."

The city of Indian Rocks Beach has ordinances in place for short-term rentals now. And there are noise ordinances that anyone in residential city zones has to comply with. 

Alan Agoado is a property manager and runs nine properties in Indian Rocks. He said he hopes he can find a way to make his rental units welcome in the community. 

"Ninety-nine out of 100 managers or owners are going to do whatever their neighbors want to keep a peaceful community," Agoado said. 

10 Tampa Bay interviewed Agoado at one of his properties under renovation. Additional security cameras were being installed. Agoado also showed the fence and trees he's placed to keep the noise down. 

"I have cameras on my house," Agoado said. "My neighbors, if they contact me, I check the cameras right away. If I hear or see an issue, I reach out to my guests right away." 

When asked about the economic impact short-term rentals have, Agoado said it's a big deal for local businesses. 

"I've had some businesses tell me they'd lose as much as 70 % of business if short-term rentals were not in this area," he said. 

There are state laws in place that don't allow cities to restrict some aspects of short-term rentals — like setting a minimum on the duration of stay. 

"What we have found with the increase in short-term rentals in our community, is that we have had to step it up a notch, and that's what we'll be doing tonight," Mayor Cookie Kennedy said. 

The city commission can set a maximum number of occupants per rental. During Tuesday's meeting, commissioners proposed a limit of 12 occupants. Commissioners stated two per bedroom plus two. A factor here was parents traveling with children.

Kennedy said the city also plans to add a code enforcer and a special magistrate. When asked how those new positions will be budgeted, she said those costs will come from the rentals. 

"Inspection fees will help with the cost of that," Kennedy said. 

To cover those costs, commissioners proposed a $400 registration fee. 

Parking was also discussed and commissioners came to the consensus of one space per bedroom with a paving requirement. A key factor in this discussion was how commissioners do not want people parking on the grass. When it came to street parking, there were a lot of complaints so they took time to say they will talk about a paving requirement in the future.

Other regulations, like suspension, were talked about. Commissioners saying, three violations would lead to a suspension. 

The regulations discussed among commissioners tonight will be detailed in a draft that will be further discussed. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14. 

Malique Rankin is a general assignment reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. You can email her story ideas at mrankin@10tampabay.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

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