The effort to get Gov. DeSantis to veto short-term vacation rental bill accelerates

Gov. DeSantis hasn’t commented publicly about SB 280.

As lawmakers were winding down in the Capitol, Florida lawmakers finally passed a contentious bill that has irked local governments over the past decade — a proposal to give the state more power to regulate short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo platforms, which have changed the vacation landscape in a tourist-heavy state.

But a growing list of opponents have been inundating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office with emails and phone calls ever since. The bill had been approved on the second to last day of the legislative session, which ended March 8.

The opponents began urging DeSantis to veto the measure, with neighborhood residents and local government officials from coastal and tourist communities saying that the bill will tarnish their quality of life.

Other opponents — such as the Florida Realtors group — say that if the measure becomes law, it will erode the rights of property owners who rent out their homes, and ultimately hurt the state’s economy.

“We are trying to educate the governor that this is a bad bill and only hurts residential communities,” says David Will, the Mayor of Redington Beach in Pinellas County. Will has made numerous trips to Tallahassee to lobby against this bill and previous versions of the proposal since he was elected in 2021.

“We are one signature away from sweeping legislation that will change Florida’s vacation rental lodging association forever,” warns the Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals (FAVR), in an email message to its members.

Unlike other controversial bills approved in Tallahassee this past session, the opposition to the measure (SB 280) transcended partisanship, with the House passing it 60-51, one of the closest margins of any proposal that came before the chamber this winter.

Pinellas County Republican Nick DiCeglie, the Senate bill sponsor, said the measure was a “fair and balanced” approach to an issue that has divided residential communities and the rights of property owners in Florida for years. He told lawmakers at one committee meeting earlier this year that while every community in the state is unique, a state law was required to prevent local governments from enacting ordinances that are used “as a weapon to stop vacation rentals from operating at all.”

DiCeglie boasted that the bill now creates a statewide database of all short-term rental hosts, but critics note that it does not require that vacation hosts report a physical address to either the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR), nor the local government which is registering the property.

“Do any other bricks and mortar businesses in Florida get to hide their physical addresses from the public,” Indian Rocks Beach resident Kelly Cisarik wrote in a letter to Gov. DeSantis requesting that he veto the bill.

“How would local law enforcement or fire departments quickly find a property owner in an emergency? They respond to an address that is not listed with the state! The state registry does not list that physical address where the emergency occurred. There will be no state license number or local registration number displayed on the exterior of a building under SB 280 either. My city requires an exterior placard with the local registration number. Those will be gone if this law is implemented.”

In the bill passed earlier this month, a late-filed amendment was added: Counties can keep their own local vacation rental ordinances as long as they were passed before 2016 — which as it turns out, affects only one jurisdiction — Flagler County, which passed its local ordinance regulating short-term vacation rentals in February 2015.

That carveout has outraged some local mayors.

“We passed a comprehensive local registration process in 2020 when that was permitted but I think this bill kills [that] for us but not Flagler. But why?” Melbourne Beach Mayor Alison Dennington told the Phoenix in an email. “We spent a great deal of money (staff, numerous meetings, legal fees, drafting and redrafting, public notice, 1st and 2nd reads, etc.).

Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy says it took over six months last year for her city to come up with an ordinance regulating short-term vacation rentals. “Why isn’t Pinellas County, exempt from the bill?” she says, laughing. “How fair is that? I mean, what is this about?”

In introducing the amendment, neither DiCeglie nor the House bill sponsor, Bay County Republican Philip Griffitts, ever explained why Flagler County, which coincidentally is the home to House Speaker Paul Renner, was allowed to have their local ordinance regulating vacation rentals “grandfathered” into the bill.

“Don’t you think that’s kind of odd?” Kennedy asks.

The city of Anna Maria is a residential community located at the northern end of Anna Maria Island in Manatee County on Florida’s west coast. Its mayor, Dan Murphy, was reportedly scheduled to meet with DeSantis this week, according to The Anna Maria Islander. Murphy did not return the Phoenix’s request for comment but did tell the local paper that the bill’s provision on regulating occupancy would be “virtually unenforceable.”

“It’s not fair. … This is something that could change the whole complexion of this city,” Murphy said. “This is something that could be really devastating to us.”

Adding some heft to the opposition is the Florida Realtors, but for different reasons than where the local governments are coming from.

For example, after receiving criticism that the charge for a registration fee from property owners was too low, DiCeglie amended it to now give local governments the ability to charge a “reasonable fee.” The Realtors say that risks charging “excessive fees” to property owners who want to rent their homes out.

The bill also calls for capping the maximum overnight occupancy at the greater of either two people per bedroom, plus an additional two people in one common area, or more than two people per bedroom if there is at least 50 square feet per person. The Realtors oppose that provision, saying it would mean that “multi-family groups could struggle to find accommodations that comfortably fit everyone,” potentially leading to higher costs for those families, prompting them to choose other states to vacation.

Another opponent is the Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals (FAVR), a vacation rental owner’s nonprofit association. They’re warning its members that if passed, the measure would be a bureaucratic nightmare for the tens of thousands of Floridians who currently rent out their homes to paying visitors.

“Vacation Rental Managers who operate statewide will also feel the increasing burden of more regulations, fees, fines and more hoops to jump through,” the organization recently wrote to its members in an email.

Even those who supported the proposal in the Legislature aren’t doing much to sell its benefits.

Pinellas County House Republican Berny Jacques, who voted for the bill, told some constituents at a town hall meeting recently that “it’s not perfect. Sometimes you just have to hold your nose sometimes.”

“I see both aspects of [the issue],” he added. “People say private property rights. I can appreciate that, but it’s also your private property rights to not live next to a hotel, right? And so how do you balance that? And there are public safety elements as well.”

Gov. DeSantis hasn’t commented publicly about SB 280, but back in 2020, when a similarly worded bill was making its way through the legislative committee process, he let it be known that philosophically he had issues with the state taking over control of regulating tens of thousands of vacation rentals.

“We are a very diverse state. For us to be micromanaging vacation rentals, I am not sure that is the right thing to do,” DeSantis told reporters after a dedication ceremony at Florida A&M University. “These are things where you’ll have kind of a quiet neighborhood. Then you will have someone doing this and there are parties going on and some of the residents get upset. My view would be, probably, that it should be determined locally.”

Once the Legislature sends SB 280 to DeSantis, he will have 15 days to either sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

Florida Phoenix

Florida Phoenix is a news and opinion outlet focused on government and political news coverage within the state of Florida.


  • Lex

    March 25, 2024 at 9:45 am

    I do not see a need for this to be uniform statewide. The whole concept of AirBnB and VRBO is that an individual rents his property on that site, so you do not need it to be uniform from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If the goal was to simply allow it in every jurisdiction then do just that. If the goal is to cap any local fees do just that. But everything else should have been left to the locality. The more detail they put into the state law the worse the legislation gets.

    • rick whitaker

      March 25, 2024 at 8:20 pm

      lex, i do believe the things you are talking about are being done by the guys you voted for, interesting.

  • William Wortman

    March 26, 2024 at 3:10 am

    I have no sympathy for AirB&B or verbo.
    From what I can see(verbo next door) most of these properties are owned by people who do not live in the neighborhoods and could not care less about the home owners who actually reside in their homes in these neighborhoods.
    When the resession/depression that is on our door step gets here, all this business will dry up and the squatters will move in.

  • Dave

    March 26, 2024 at 7:50 am

    Rental homes bring non resident activity to retirement neighborhoods. This disrupts, especially if you live next to a rental property, the retirement atmosphere. Rental property owners and rental corporations do not share the same goals of retired people resulting in retired people having to compromise their satisfaction for someone else’s profit motives. And as always, money (campaign donations) wins every contest when politicians are involved.

  • CP

    March 26, 2024 at 9:13 am

    Perhaps I am overly simplistic, but this seems like an issue of rights versus thoughtfulness. It’s the property owner’s right to turn their property into a hotel. It’s the right of the neighborhood to despise it. I see a new industry coming. Resort second homes springing up everywhere in Florida. Solution! Tax the owners like the business their property becomes. Do not let the income escape taxation by allowing it to be considered personal income since Florida doesn’t have a personal income tax.

  • MS100

    March 26, 2024 at 9:28 am

    What should have happened first is outlawing ownership of single family homes by large corporations like Black Rock. Even add in non-citizens. This would free up tens of thousands of homes for AMERICANS.

  • Thinblu

    March 26, 2024 at 9:31 am

    Ten million invaders march across the border. They are all knowledgeable about “squatters rights.” First stop for these homeless? AirB&B and VRBO on their Biden-phones. They arrive, they pay for a night or two, and never leave. So if you have a thoughtless neighbor, things are sure to get ugly. Half the state leaves next month. What could go wrong?

    • Raymond Hippele

      March 27, 2024 at 2:15 pm

      Really, your comment is pure fear mongering. Airbnb’s and Vrbo’s are existing now and whether this bill passes or not. Sorry, but your comment is pretty ignorant.

  • Ynot?

    March 26, 2024 at 10:21 am

    “It’s not perfect but sometimes you just have to hold your nose.”
    Translation: this is what we’re going to do and those that it impacts negatively or don’t have the money to buy a politician can pound sand.

  • Tony Chiapas

    March 26, 2024 at 11:18 am

    from the article . . . ” Pinellas County House Republican . . . who voted for the bill, told some constituents at a town hall meeting recently that ” IT’S NOT PERFECT. SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO HOLD YOUR NOSE SOMETIMES” . . .
    and that RESPONSE is the problem . . . rather than draft clean legislation, OR DRAFT NO NEW REGULATIONS, LEGISLATION, laws and let the “marketplace of individual ideas” florish . . . ((( we in California are experiencing similar “legislation” to regulate the nightly rental environment in resort towns . . . nothing like elected officials who “hold their noses” instead of drafting clean bills which work . . . )))

  • Raymond Hippele

    March 26, 2024 at 11:38 am

    I am for this bill. My house is in Volusia County and they passed a bill a few years ago totally banning rentals under 30 days. Now, we can barely pay our tax and insurance bill which previously we were able to rent when we were not there to help with our expenses.

  • robert C pudleiner

    March 27, 2024 at 2:02 pm

    They have passed this in Melbourne Beach also. But ours is 90 days. You are lucky yours is only 30

  • Raymond Hippele

    March 28, 2024 at 8:47 am

    That is EXACTLY why this bill is needed. There is a patchwork of local laws that are all over the place. This bill creates a level playing field and is a fair bill for all concerned. Thank you.

Comments are closed.


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