The Marco City Council started their first meeting in October by honoring Sharon Kovacs for her 5 years of service within the Marco Police Department. Kovacs was accompanied to the ceremony by her husband John Kovac, a Community Service Officer with the Marco Police Department.
With the second reading of the ordinance of the city’s Land Development Code, the sales and distribution of recreational marijuana would not be allowed on Marco Island. Although recreational marijuana is not yet legal in the State of Florida, it is anticipated that a referendum ballot initiative may come in 2022.
On Monday, the Council once again heard from concerned citizens regarding how their “quality of life” was being seriously damaged by the invasion of short-term rentals. They had expected Marco Island to be the quiet and subdued neighborhoods that they visited before they purchased their home, but now some are talking about selling and fleeing what was supposed to be their final home.
However, the Council adjusted the details in the city’s noise ordinance by increasing fines, setting specific decibel levels and time periods during which those noise levels will be enforced, as well as the distance from which they’ll be measured.
David Romano, one of those owners thinking about moving, commented on a statement by Councilor Rios. Romano stated, “Mr. Rios hit the nail on the head when he said this is a symptom of a larger problem.”
Many of those in attendance questioned the Council’s commitment to taking on the problem. “Why should we trust you?” asked Terry Summerfield in addressing the council.
Ed Issler rose and asked, “What is the ultimate goal here?”
The Council voted to approve the adjusted ordinance by a 7-0 vote.
Vacation Rental Properties Report
Casey Lucas, the Assistant to the City Manager, gave an overview of what the task force she heads has discovered in their review of the controversy.
One of the important findings in their research was that other communities that have had some success in dealing with out–of–control rentals learned the following were essential to their task:
- An accurate identification and count of vacation rental properties.
- An ability to identify and reach vacation rental property owners and/or their designates.
- Ordinances that support the enforcement of ‘permissible’ local government actions.
- Tools to verify compliance.
- Collaboration across local, county and state agencies.
Their research had also shown that 1800 to 3600 living units on the island could be currently rented. Of that number, between 35-40% of those are condominiums.
Another way to acquire a more accurate number of the actual inventory of rental properties and owners’ contact information is to initiate a mandatory registration process.
This caused Councilor Honig to wonder aloud whether the climate had changed since 2015.
David Romano, in testimony before the board, would again remind them that the noise issue was directly related to the numbers inhabiting a home. “Occupancy is a major issue,” Romano noted.