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