The Florida League of Mayors was at the Capitol Wednesday highlighting the importance of home rule.
There are 412 incorporated cities in the state and they say they have the right to make laws that best fit their communities. But lawmakers say there should be one standard statewide so there’s not a “patchwork” of ordinances that change from locality to locality.
Kevin Ruane is the mayor of Sanibel and the president of the Florida League of Mayors. He says of the 23 preemption bills they’re tracking, some of his top concerns include vacation rentals and water quality.
A bill preempting short-term zoning for rentals cleared its Senate committee yesterday. SB 1128, sponsored by Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., passed muster in the Commerce and Tourism committee Tuesday. The measure would void local vacation-rental ordinances passed since June 1, 2011. But it would allow local governments to pass new regulations as long as they apply equally to all residential properties, including private residences as well as short-term rentals.
Ruane said there are major quality of life issues cities face with these vacation rentals.
“If you can imagine going into a residential neighborhood like mine in Sanibel where there’s a 28-day requirement and to have someone rent next door and to take a room or a house and put 20 or 25 people in it,” he said. “You have so many strains on the community from an infrastructure point of view, from a safety point of view, and obviously from no regulation, no insurance.”
Ruane feels strongly about preserving Sanibel’s water quality and said he supports Gov. Ron DeSantis’ water quality initiatives.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey disputes the argument lawmakers often make for preemption, which is there should be one standard statewide.
“I respectfully disagree,” he said. “What’s good for Tallahassee is not necessarily good for Miami. What’s good for Orlando is not necessarily good for St. Augustine. We are the government closest to the people. We should have the opportunity to make those decisions for what’s best for our communities.”
Integrity Florida, a government watchdog group released a report last month finding lawmakers are increasingly using preemption to reduce the authority of local governments.