State legislators have again revived a bill that would take away local control of transient rentals and give it to the state.
The Florida Keys, at this time, seem to be immune from the latest effort because the Monroe County government and its lobbying team are closely tracking the bill.
State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens, has resurrected his same failed bill from last year, which died in committee. The bill would remove local control of transient rentals and place it in the hands of the state as of January 2022.
“The regulation of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals, and public food service establishments, including, but not limited to, sanitation standards, licensing, inspections, training and testing of personnel, and matters related to the nutritional content and marketing of foods offered in such establishments, is expressly preempted to the state,” S.B. 522 stated. “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not allow or require the local inspection or licensing of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals, or public food service establishments.”
However, the bill stated that the proposed law does “not apply to any local law, ordinance, or regulation adopted on or before June 1, 2011,” which would cover the current transient rental laws in Monroe County and in each of the Keys municipalities.
Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson addressed the bill at last week’s Monroe County Commission meeting. Tennyson called the bill a “live wire,” and said she would like to see language in it tightened up and strengthen to better protect the Keys from state government preemption.
Tennyson and the county’s lobbying team plans to monitor the bill to make sure the Keys exemption from it remains in place, Tennyson said.
The Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee passed the bill last week. The House of Representative’s companion bill, H.B. 291, was passed by the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee earlier this month and is in the House’s Ways and Means Committee.
For more than a decade, a bill has been filed each year in the state Legislature to pre-empt local control of transient rentals. Each time, legislators have either shot down the bill or made immune local governments that already have their own local ordinances addressing the transient rentals.
The Monroe County Code Department, the local offices of the State Tax Collector’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office have partnered on various efforts to root out and stop illegal transient rentals, which is a big problem in the Florida Keys.
Local residents and elected officials are concerned that without local control, the state will not have the proper resources to handle regulating transient rentals, which can bring loud noise and people partying late into the night in residential neighborhoods. Transient rentals also take away from the Keys’ limited affordable housing pool.
The issue pits large corporations such as Airbnb against residents, who do not have corporate lobbyists at their disposal.
Last year, the Florida-based Our Neighborhoods fought the pre-emption bill and sent out an email blast that details how Arizona state legislators took away local control of transient rental regulation, but three years later reinstated local control after they realized it was a mistake to take away home rule.