Daytona mayor wants more short-term rentals

While some Florida cities prefer to limit short-term rentals, the mayor of Daytona Beach sees expansion into a central tourist area as a way to improve the neighborhood.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — For decades, landlords who wanted to use their Daytona Beach homes and condos for short-term vacation rentals faced a brick wall of opposition at City Hall.

Now, Mayor Derrick Henry is proposing that the city make an exception to its ban on residential rentals for less than six months in just one part of the city: the central beach tourist area. Henry would like to allow rentals for a few days, weeks or months between East International Speedway Boulevard and Oakridge Boulevard, and between Halifax Avenue and State Road A1A.

At Wednesday night’s city commission meeting, Henry said it was “a perfect place for Daytona Beach to offer vacation rentals.”

“The large number of small homes with easy access to the beach and plenty of space for new businesses to accommodate these visitors in the surrounding area is a winning combination,” Henry said. “With the changes happening right now on Oakridge, and soon to be East ISB, Daytona Beach is about to have a boom.”

A majority of city commissioners said they wanted to talk more about Henry’s idea and consider a formal proposal that would allow this part of the beach to have short-term rentals.

For many years, the city only allowed rentals for less than six months in areas of Daytona Beach’s tourist zoning districts and community redevelopment areas where hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts are also allowed. Bed and breakfast establishments can also legally operate in a residential area if it is an established historic area.

Many people ignored the Daytona Beach rules and rented homes and apartments anyway through Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online vacation rental companies. The city has cracked down hard on illegal rentals in recent years, hitting landlords with code violations for not being allowed to rent their properties.

Henry said he had been considering relaxing the rules for short-term rentals on the beach for nearly a year. He said he realizes “it’s very sensitive in our community.”

“We know there will be people who won’t be in favor of this,” Henry said. But he believes it’s the right thing to do.

The city has struggled for decades to revitalize the waterfront around Main Street and the Ocean Center with little success. Henry said short-term rentals could be a catalyst to finally transform the area between the Halifax River and the ocean.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Henry listed seven reasons why he maintains allowing vacation rentals “is a great way” to improve the beachfront neighborhood known as Surfside Village and to “energize our Main Street neighborhood”. Henry said he wanted to make Main Street, which is currently dominated by bars and restaurants, more of a shopping district and a place for festivals. He envisions creating places where vacationers can walk to from their rental properties.

He argues that short-term rentals would encourage landlords and investors to improve run-down properties. Rising property values ​​would mean more money for public amenities and infrastructure, he said. Henry also argues that vacation rentals would provide additional income opportunities for resident owners, and that visitors staying in vacation rentals would bring new life to the area and patronize nearby businesses. He said it could spur more businesses to open.

He also points out that travelers who prefer a family setting to hotel rooms must now travel to another city. And he said licensing, regulating and supervising vacation rentals that try to stay under the radar would minimize the negative impacts they can have on surrounding properties.

Henry and local residents from the Mayor’s Beachside Committee visited 112 family properties between East ISB and Oakridge and either spoke with residents or left the flyer that explains the Mayor’s idea. The group spoke to 38 people in the homes and asked them what they thought of the mayor’s short-term rental idea. A total of 27 people in the homes like the idea, nine said they were neutral on the proposal, and two said they didn’t like it, Henry said.

A woman who lives on South Hollywood Avenue said most of the neighborhood already had short-term rentals and she lived next door to one, according to the group’s survey.

Although it’s improving, the beachfront still has a lot of run-down properties, Henry said. There is also a small percentage of family properties between East ISB and Oakridge, he said. Henry shared numbers from the Volusia County Real Estate Appraiser’s Office showing that only 13% of homes between Seabreeze Boulevard and Main Street are single family properties. From Main Street to ISB, the rate increases to just over 24%. South of ISB to Silver Beach Avenue, it rises to 29%.

Henry thinks competition between short-term rental properties would encourage landlords to repair their homes, which in turn could attract more landlords.

“It would encourage those who have these properties to take it to another level,” Henry said.

City Attorney Bob Jagger said he thinks the city would be on a solid legal footing if it allowed short-term rentals in the center of the city’s beach. A state law passed in 2011 states that “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the length or frequency of vacation rentals.”

The city would add more rentals, not regulate or ban them, Jagger said. And the city’s existing short-term rental limitations were upheld when the 2011 law was passed, so those rules could remain in effect for the rest of the city.

“I’m confident the city would be able to defend a lawsuit,” Jagger said.

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