Perceptions and Realities

It is said that no single person holds the whole truth on any given issue or situation – because, subconsciously, everyone seeks the “truth” that works for them.

It is the same in religion as it is in politics. 

In my family, the statement “You have your thoughts on the issue, and I have mine,” rarely results in the fuzzy-wuzzy notion that those holding differing opinions can ‘agree to disagree.’  In fact, it usually precedes a knock-down-drag-out argument to prove who is right and who is wrong. 

So, how many conflicting versions of the “truth” can there be?

The fact is an individual’s understanding of an issue is filtered through their unique experiences, observations, and beliefs – and perception quickly becomes reality. 

For instance, having spent the bulk of my adult life in municipal government, I equate my point-of-view to that of a veteran proctologist – we’ve both seen our share of suppurating assholes – and it has skewed my interpretation of most aspects of local governance. . .

But, I must admit, on rare occasions government works hard to level the playing field and permit options that enhance the marketplace.

Last week, I wrote a piece critical of Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower’s rush to help the owners of short-term rental properties in Bethune Beach and Ormond-by-the-Sea avoid code enforcement sanctions until amended regulations can be established for all unincorporated areas of the county.   

I didn’t disagree with the action taken – I took exception to the fact that our elected officials moved on a controversial issue that was not on the agenda. 

But the decision was not mine to make, and Chairman Brower has stood firm – logically defending his choice and judgement to his constituents and his colleagues. 

Look, I wholeheartedly support the rights of short-term rental owners to enjoy the benefits of this incredibly popular industry while contributing to our economy in many important ways – and I understand Chairman Brower’s desire to move this important issue forward, bringing it out of the molasses-like bureaucratic sludge to provide property owners with clarity – and hope.      

Some loyal readers of this blogsite saw Mr. Brower’s entreaty on behalf of property owners as the right thing to do, while others have expressed differing opinions on the controversial practice that is, in some areas, dividing neighborhoods.   

Property owners trying desperately to save their vacation rental business, private property rights versus community standards, “quality of life” issues at the nexus of a notorious ‘party house’ and the peace and quiet of someone’s retirement dream, some following the rules while others flaunt them, absentee owners versus professionally managed properties, neighbor against neighbor.      

Different perceptions – different realities – literally depending upon which side of the street you are on.

When done right, short-term rentals can improve the experience of visitors and increase property values – something desperately needed in our core tourist area.

In fact, most vacation rentals are the most well-maintained homes on the block.      

Many owners have put considerable time, money, and effort into renovating dilapidated properties – turning eyesores into prosperous jewels that enhance the visual aesthetics of our community, and the benefits to Volusia County and the municipalities in an era of dwindling tourist tax revenues is self-evident. 

In my view, it is right and fair that Volusia County (and the City of Daytona Beach) join the rest of the free world in embracing peer-to-peer rentals – and to hell with the empty protestations of the dispirited hotel/motel cabal – many of whom have allowed their beachside product to wither and rot, contributing to the blight and sense of hopelessness that pervades much of our core tourist area.

Now, Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County has launched an urgent appeal to area hoteliers under the battle flag “This is a blow to ya business” (seriously, I didn’t make that up), asking his membership to turn out in force at the March 2, 2021 Volusia County Council meeting to oppose allowing short-term rentals outside arbitrarily defined “tourist zones.”

In my view, if Daytona Beach area hotels cannot be successful in this new age of vacation options – perhaps they should rethink how best to compete in a changing tourist economy and understand that 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 across the industry.

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.

When my wife and I travel, we invariably use vacation rentals, because even recognized chain hotels can be hit or miss these days – and we enjoy seeing new places like a local.    

Last fall, Patti and I rented a quaint cottage on a beautiful lake near Thomasville, Georgia.

The very first communication we had with the owner said, “Be aware that sound travels across the water, and you will be asked to immediately vacate the property if we receive ONE noise complaint.”

The ground rules were that simple.  Be a good neighbor – or get out.  Now.   

And therein lies the solution – fair but firm regulations that clearly define the rights and obligations of owners, booking platforms, and guests of vacation rentals – including strong provisions for protecting the quality of life in neighborhoods where short-terms rentals are located.   

These ordinances should include a mandatory code of conduct preventing nuisance conditions, such as excessive noise, damage to property, parking, number of occupants, violent or threatening behavior, and an assurance that property owners or managers are readily available to ensure that complaints are dealt with quickly. 

Perhaps in Florida, where tourism is such a vitally important part of our economy, uniform regulations that ensure consistency and set reasonable standards for owners and guests should be developed by the state legislature with enforcement responsibility delegated to local governments? 

In my view, it is time for local governments to repeal Draconian regulations that effectively limit vacation rentals to “tourist districts” and other subjective geographical boundaries – legislation that is contrary to the notion of fair trade – and stop the onerous enforcement actions and crippling fines that crush small business owners and limit vacation options for families who chose to spend their disposable income in the Daytona Beach Resort Area and beyond.

If you feel strongly, as I do, that short-term vacation rentals deserve a place in our community and economy, please consider making your voice heard – and attend the March 2 Volusia County Council meeting at the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Building in DeLand beginning at 10:00am.   

Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal

7 thoughts on “Perceptions and Realities

  1. My bet is you don’t live in an area where those short term rentals occur, illegally and it isn’t the panacea in your imagination..
    The rules in New Smyrna Beach have worked limiting short term rentals by zoning restrictions.

    That property owners are losing their rights is pure Bullshit. They never had that right in R-1, R2 single family neighborhoods.
    Anyone can rent their residences for 30 days or more.

    Guarantee you there’s no support for your ideas in single family neighborhoods.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Single family neighborhoods dont want any renters.My neighbor sold her 3 year old house because the house across the street rented to trash with parties and 6 trucks parked there.Even Margaritaville advertises for renters for certain months.I want to live next to someone who cares about their property and neighbors and the community and not the mook that just buys properties to rent out.Anybody see whats happened to the motels on Ridgewood?These are now drug dens and whore houses.Ask Chitwood.So much for tourist areas.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 100% correct and on-track. I live beachside and have actually used STRs. In my neighborhood while displaced by a fire. One appeared awesome, owned by a wealthy out-of-state owner, the other a shoebox on a street where homesteaders owned STRs. The first, no lease, no protection for renters, zero paid in bed tax.
    Homesteader: Rock-solid legal lease with full protection of both parties by a real estate professional performing. Property Management Service. Every penny of bed tax collected. Perfect tenants? Nope. Damaged a nice window blind. Lowe’s could match for $200 – owner demanded $1000 cash. Other rental occupied months longer than typical, Owners got continuous income, but we had continous responsibility for our end and had only paid for routine cleaning after one-month occupancy. Same couple hundred, properly handled, charged and done for the benefit of owner, renter, and the people of Volusia County.

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  4. I don’t tell my neighbors who can visit their house and for how long, why should it be different because I’m being paid by my guests? As referenced above, my guests abide by a stricter set of rules than I do. Hell, with my gaggle of teenage kids and the noise they and their friends make, my neighbors should prefer my guests over my own family. My house is not a hotel/motel. It is my residence when I’m there, and my guest’s residence while they are there. They are living their best life ever enjoying the area that we love and share with all who are lucky enough to come. Laws already exist for the unruly, whether a permanent or temporary resident.

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  5. My daughter uses AirBnB all the time when she travels – she loves it and recommends it – I would try it if COVID-19 would ever go away, but obviously, I’m not traveling at the moment. She has used apartments in the middle of cities where she can walk to things & cabins in the mountains where she can have privacy and she is a good renter. They all have had rules which she has abided by and I believe we should allow people to do what they want to do – it IS their property, after all. I’m sure there would be issues if HOAs got involved, as they do with everything else; however, I’m all for it! Best of luck to the small business owners, we must support them!

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  6. Vacation rentals are in demand. We are a tourist economy, and if we don’t flex with the times, we are doomed. Vacation rentals are not going away. They need to be legal so that they are licensed, inspected, regulated, and taxed. As long as they are illegal, they will operate underground, without the regulation that protects visitors and neighbors alike.

    There are MANY local homeowners who simply want to use their spare capacity (extra bedroom, in-law suite, or garage apartment) to earn supplemental income. They reside full-time on their properties. They are as concerned about any nuisance issues as their neighbors are. It is simply absurd that Daytona Beach does not allow this.

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  7. I would like to be there but I’ll be in Philly seeing my Daughters and grand children for the first time since Xmas 2019. I once upon a time owned 6 rental properties on the New Jersey shore. My Aunt owned a Motel on the beach in Pompano. I have no sympathy for those owners of the dumpy little motels all over DAB

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