On Daytona Beach: The War on Short-Term Rentals Continues

The fight for survival normally takes one of two forms – vigorous combat and strenuous effort that uses all of one’s resources in a no-holds-barred, tooth and nail fight for life – or the ability to adapt to a changing environment in order to survive.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, the Daytona Beach tourism and hospitality apparatus has done neither – standing lead-footed in almost paralytic inaction as the death spiral of the beachside gained speed and corrosive blight, civic neglect and economic stagnation blanketed our core tourist areas like a shroud.

Rather than demand that economic development officials, and our long-winded tourism gurus (with their malleable marketing analysts), develop a comprehensive vision for breathing life into this once world famous destination – or standing on the chest of elected officials until they turn their fickle attention from Boomtown Boulevard to solving the grave issue of beachside revitalization – local hoteliers have stood idle while their cash cow slowly gave up the ghost.

Now, with occupancy and average daily rates slipping, tourism and lodging officials have joined forces with the do-nothing Halifax Area Advertising Authority to lash out at their self-created enemy – the local short-term rental market – demanding that city and county government use the ultimate power of crippling fines to crush one of the most successful segments of the hospitality industry.

On Wednesday, the HAAA board of directors – whose normal role is to piss away bed tax revenues on nonsensical marketing slogans like “Wide. Open. Fun!” or “Seize the Daytona” and shovel funds to the equally ineffectual Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – issued a demand that local officials begin enforcing zoning codes against the owners of short-term rental properties.

For Daytona Beach investors who rent their property for less than six-months, that could mean devastating fines of up to $15,000 per day.

In my view, many local hotel/motel operators are part of the problem.

For years they have refused to reinvest in their product, squeezed profits while paying shit wages for scullery work and allowed their facilities and amenities to deteriorate.

While some hoteliers have kept up with the times, many others on Atlantic Avenue and beyond have become little more than fleabags – or stand vacant, rotting monoliths circled in ratty chain-link fencing – which contributes to the seedy sense of hopelessness that continues to plague revitalization efforts.

And don’t get me started on the once famous Daytona Beach Boardwalk. . .

Rather than incorporate innovation and alternatives into area tourism initiatives, the City of Daytona Beach fights these entrepreneurial investors like a rabid badger – still kowtowing to the tired whims of our horribly uninspired tourism and lodging officials.

Given the current economic environment on much of the beachside, it’s time for local government to get the hell out of the marketplace and stop this withering assault on small business.

When investors purchase dilapidated properties and renovate them into a marketable short-term rental – it has a radiating effect in the surrounding area, slows the spread of blight and proves that pride in appearance can be equally contagious.

According to the intrepid Mary Synk, who has worked tirelessly for smart regulations and responsible ownership, these renovations are performed at private expense, without tax abatement or government incentives, and the construction and ongoing maintenance provides jobs, such as landscaping, property management and other trades while increasing sales at local businesses which contributes to the economic health of our community.

Ms. Synk reports that over the past month, the “war against vacation rentals in Daytona Beach has gotten more aggressive than ever before.” 

In May, a judge upheld the City of Daytona Beach’s argument that short-term vacation rentals are only allowed in “tourist zoning districts,” certain community redevelopment areas and established historic districts.

That ruling is currently under appeal.

A free and open marketplace begins with creating a demand – a product or service that consumers want – that creates competition leading to innovation and constant improvement in an environment where fair and equitable regulation and management ensures a level playing field.

I frequently use peer-to-peer rentals whenever I travel.

Let’s face it, if you’ve seen one cookie-cutter chain hotel room – you’ve seen them all. . .

I like the experience – feeling part of the community, meeting new people and experiencing an unfamiliar place like a “local.”

Because of the personal nature of staying in someone’s home – I always strive to be a good guest and leave the property better than I found it.

Most people do.

If properly regulated, managed and taxed fairly – I believe the peer-to-peer vacation market can play an important role in the revitalization of our lagging tourism economy.

In my view, that begins when government, and their friends in the hotel/motel industry, stop the strong-arm tactics and permit a level playing field.

To put it in perspective, Ms. Synk recently noted that the City of Daytona Beach – which has failed to impose the $3,000 per day fine on the contractor for the repeatedly delayed First Step Shelter – is perfectly willing to impose a crushing $15,000 per day fine on any citizen who “illegally” rents space to a tourist.

What gives?

As I’ve said before, local governments must retain the right to enact common-sense rules to alleviate nuisance issues and ensure the health, safety and quality of life for all residents – and a means to ensure short-term rentals pay applicable taxes is a given – but property owners should be permitted to market their properties in an open and responsible way without oppressive government regulation.

The use of draconian fines that can crush a property owner under the iron boot of a compromised municipal and county government is not fair – and it’s not healthy to our local economy.

To learn more, please go to www.SAVEDaytona.org

There you will find a link to a petition requesting reasonably regulated short-term rentals in Daytona Beach.  Take time to educate yourself.

Even if you disagree with the concept of short-term rentals – I think you will agree that the Halifax Area Advertising Authority’s push for excessively harsh government intrusion in the marketplace is wrong.

 

9 thoughts on “On Daytona Beach: The War on Short-Term Rentals Continues

  1. Nothing you mentioned justifies breaking the zoning laws which are meant to protect Residential Single Family neighborhood.

    Have the same problem in NSB although the laws have been in place for years.

    Sorry you apparently don’t stand for the personal property rights that purposely bought housing in neighborhoods that didn’t allow rentals of less than 30 days! That’s the NSB regulation.

    To all the “crooked” investors, I say: tough shit!

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    1. The restoration of dumpy homes which became short term rentals has contributed to the gentrification of all the beach towns. I appreciate it. The County has done nothing. I’m grateful. Not arrogantly saying “tough sh*t” while enjoying the results of others’ investments of time and money.

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  2. Completely agree. No Airbnb guests in town?! No one wants to stay in a cheap dump on A1A. Please help small businesses survive. It’s hard to protest and face a huge fine though.

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  3. Impotent governmental attempts to delay the inevitable (or protect the gravy train) never cease to amuse me.

    Businesses are all about the “free market” til somebody starts competing with *them*… then the first thing they do is sic the govt on the upstarts.

    Hey, hotels — if you want the airbnb guests back, instead of sending your kneecappers after them, how about stopping the airline pricing model (resort fees, etc. being tacked on) instead. Offer some units with a modicum of kitchen facilities so folks, particularly those with special dietary needs, don’t have to go out and forage for 3 meals a day (no, a micro fridge and undersized microwave don’t cut it). And try to accommodate people traveling with pets.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to make your sterile hotel facilities more home-like, for travelers who prefer that sort of thing. Nor can you make your concentrated population of tourists a less attractive target for criminals.

    “the City of Daytona Beach – which has failed to impose the $3,000 per day fine on the contractor for the repeatedly delayed First Step Shelter”

    or Protogroup, for various infractions!

    Typical bullies — picking on people who are less able to fight back.

    (or perhaps paying less tribute?)

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  4. Mark,

    Thank you so much for publishing this. Your support means a lot to me. So far today, we have 13 new signatures on the petition. Hopefully, that will continue to grow. And maybe, just maybe, we will eventually get this absurd ordinance repealed or at least changed. And (prayers) the First Step Shelter will be ready when the cold wind starts blowing.

    Kind Regards, Mary

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. As a homeowner with life saving invested in my home, I must say that you are dead wrong on short term rentals. Of course, like most things, irresponsible renters will cause a significant drop in property values.

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  6. I delivered the Belair Community Group newsletter for years, including our street, Seaview Avenue. We have about 75 houses, half of which are rentals. Generally speaking, the rental houses are the worst looking ones on the street. The absentee owners don’t see them (and perhaps don’t care), and the renters have no stake in improving the properties. While I’m a proponent of property rights, didn’t the folks desiring to use VRBO and AirBnB know that short-term rentals were prohibited under local law when they purchased their properties? While I agree that the HAAA Board seems heavy-handed, the way to address this is to get the law changed. Given the way rentals usually end up looking, I’d be surprised if there would be a majority of property owners that would embrace permitting short-term rentals. I’d vote against it. BTW, given our biker mentality, the WOF campaign should have been named WFO.

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    1. Like everything else that the City is in charge of, this is messed up. No houses- rentals or not – should look neglected and run down – ever. Landlords have no respect for anyone, because they have permission from Daytona Beach. It’s hard to change this precedent. Now is time to do so.

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