Eight years ago, I bought my dream home in a quiet waterfront residential neighborhood in Crystal River. Many neighbors were retired, and all enjoyed quiet activities such as bicycling, kayaking, fishing or swimming in the nearby fresh water and saltwater.
In the past several years, our once tight-knit neighborhood has become a hot bed of interest for short-term vacation rentals. While Crystal River has a grandfathered ordinance limiting short term rentals, this was not always communicated to buyers, and investors bought houses specifically to be used as vacation rentals.
Last year, the street I live on and the yards alongside it became a parking lot full of cars, trucks, boats and trailers blocking the street and intruding on neighboring lawns. Every few days, a dozen or more new people cycle in and out — trespassing on neighboring properties, leaving trash out on the street, partying and causing traffic at all hours in this once quiet neighborhood. Blessed with a grandfathered rental ordinance, the city Code Enforcement actively pursued the short-term rental activity, and, for the moment we have a tentative and tenuous peace.
Just outside the boundaries of the city, nearby neighborhoods are seeing an increasing number of vacation rental properties that are hurting the culture of this community and quality life of the homeowners and residents who actually live here. The same out-of-town investors that tried to turn our neighborhood into multi-family short term rentals are taking multiple paths to eliminate or circumvent the city’s ordinances.
And for the past three years, state legislation has been proposed that would threaten more damage to communities like mine by overriding the ability of local governments to regulate short-term rentals.
These investor-owned homes are vacation rental businesses, and they should be designated, regulated and treated as such. Local governments need the ability to manage land use in a manner appropriate for their unique environments.
Our elected representatives in the Florida House and Senate should not be supporting legislation that would make it even more difficult for our local government to deal with nuisance rental properties.
When the Hernando County legislative delegation meets on Nov. 18 at the Hernando County Government Center, I encourage community members to attend and make their voices heard. Our legislators need to represent the best interest of their constituents by protecting the well-being and quality of life our communities.