ORANGE PARK – The Park Town Council approved last Tuesday the first reading of an ordinance amending the town’s code on short-term vacation rentals, or what’s known as an AirBnB.
The council found itself at odds a couple months ago with the way AirBnB homes and other similar short-term rental vacation properties were allowed to operate seemingly unhinged within Orange Park. While some on the council expressed a desire to ban them inside the city limits, Town Attorney Sam Garrison said there were very few regulations for them.
“The main thing I wanted to let you know, because it was brought forth, is can we just ban these sorts of things?” Garrison said on March 5. “The answer is no, we can’t. Love it or hate it, single-family properties are allowed in the state of Florida...to rent out all or a portion of the single-family home and while we certainly can regulate it in certain respects, we cannot ban it.”
While not able to ban, Garrison presented the council with an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals. According to Garrison, when writing the ordinance, he had to make sure that every regulation was to preserve the health, safety and economic development of residential neighborhoods while also protecting statutory rights of people who wish to rent out their homes.
“This is a matter of law,” Garrison said. “This ordinance is concerned with safety and law and it comes from a place in legislature, not a desire to pick and choose.”
As such, the first reading, a short-term vacation rental certificate to be obtained from the town, along with a business tax receipt and a Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation license. It also includes regulations for swimming pools, which must comply with the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act.
Beyond that, the ordinance dictates the number of guests based on the number of rooms, parking standards and garbage regulations. The full ordinance is available for viewing on the town’s site.
“If this ordinance were to pass, you’d have the most stringent regulation on short-term rentals maybe on the entire first coast,” Garrison said. “It’s an aggressive ordinance.”
The first reading was passed by the council, 5-0. The next step is the second hearing, where if passed after that, the ordinance will become official.
Garrison advised the town to notify all short-term rental owners of the second reading so owners can ask questions and express concerns.