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Here’s The Scoop….5/26/09…. LBTS Commission Meeting…#2…Sit Down…Sit Down….Sit Down…Sit Down…You’re Rocking The Boat!…

THEY CAME ARMED WITH KNOWLEDGE….THEY CAME WITH THE TOWN CODE…

588 PAGES!……..

10 b…Ordinance 2009-19….the vacation rental ordinance…brought forth 9 speakers and many others who sat in the hall to show their presence at the 11th hour to address the injustice of this commission imposing yet another ordinance upon the property owners that would curtail their property rights….It was certainly on track to pass with a vote of the “Gang of 3” to 2 ….

Once again we went down the disjointed costly path of putting forth a new ordinance…without any of the “Mc-3” reading what was already contained in the present code…with “claims” made of complaints…and an “underbelly” of problems that had no legs to stand on (just like the noise and kitesurfing ordinances)…and left only to be stopped by the sheer number of those who made it their business to get the facts…do the research…contact each commissioner…join forces and arrive en’ masse at Jarvis Hall to take their turn at the podium!…

Note to those living in the north end of town…your cup runneth over with potential candidates to run in 2010…if these fine speakers are so inclined!….

We had been told that it was a strong possibility this would be tabled after hearing of pending litigation in neighboring towns…and that rumor may have been more than enough for a few to walk away…but they stayed and they waited until it was read by the Town Attorney….then one by one they rose to address the dais…

BC- If any names are misspelled/ missing …please let me know for an updated correction….

Matthew Schwartz….came to speak in opposition and the cost to him and the Town…starting off a familiar recurring theme …that what they are looking to do is already in the code…and what the commission is trying accomplish is behavioral problems and there was nothing in the proposed ordinance to address that…

Kai Stadler…This was a gentleman this writer first met after he and Brendan Berry had a meeting with Comm. Clottey in Town Hall…He spoke about his love for this town…and gave a brief synopsis of how it came to be he found himself in the position of renting out his home…He said he bought it to live in…then had a change of plans…tried to sell it…and could not and then he found he could rent it out weekly to vacationers from all over the world including from Germany and South America…that in these difficult times it made the difference between keeping afloat and foreclosing on it…He repeated responses made to him from Comm. Clottey before he went through the fallout of what enacting this ordinance would do…stating 46 homes ( maybe more) who actively bring $2.5 million a year in revenue to the town…would slide away and bring instead a large loss of approximately $500,000 off the town’s tax rolls…”big numbers for a small town”…He said he’s booked for next year already and this venture has been very successful…..He spoke of  the lawsuit the town would be in receipt of if this passed……He stated the present ordinances for the city are the size of a New York phone book…anything you can think of to defeat the culprit is in it…that it covers every possible angle…He implored the commission to realize the many people this ordinance would affect…and asked them to keep the city safe …but to help them get through these hard economic times…

Dr. Natalia Stadler came up after her husband and spoke of renting their town home…the impact that would come from no longer being able to do so…to the businesses reiterating the current state of hard economic times…and those who rely on these rentals…She said the renters of these homes are not the same as those who come to the hotels…and that restricting the use will be restricting the visitors to LBTS…

Brendan Berry  a former member of the LBTS P & Z …came armed with the code book itself…588 pages long …it lists what we can and cannot do…”Comm. Clottey you told me you don’t like seeing them there”…it was for “safety concerns”…..Mr. Barry said “it’s all here”…The means to prohibit it all is contained in the 588 page book he held in his hand…He read a list of prohibitions…loud music…loud live music…open containers of beverages…fighting…fighting words…garage sales without permits….boats, trailers…parking on the swales, grass and dirt….all prohibited….It prohibits speeding in our town…loud vehicles…driving on the beach…It prohibits fishing in the beach….sleeping on your boat tied to your dock behind your house…It prohibits weeds in your garden, wild growth, palmettos and rubbish….disturbing the peace…fire’s are prohibited…disorderly assembling ….trespassing…loitering…is prohibited…false alarms… fake sounds that sound like a fire truck…more than 3 animals in your home are prohibited…adding he was just listing a few…”Concerned about houses?”…chipping paint….dead, dying bushes are prohibited…anything the “awful,disgusting, scary short term renters are doing Commissioner Clottey,…it’s here!”…He exclaimed as he aggressively tapped that code book…He went on… “It allows you the mechanism to enforce it”…..”you can fine people”…”suspend or revoke licenses “…”police can seize property”…”it’s here”…he said…imprison people for up to 60 days…skateboarding [also not allowed in certain areas of town] can be imprisoned for up to 30 days…He said “We don’t need another stupid  ordinance”…and he spoke of the other lawsuits pending across the state….stating the Town Attorney was well aware of them…

Enrico……Comm. Clottey’s next door neighbor brought some unintentional levity to the room…saying ” I’m afraid, I feel bad. I was the reason this ordinance is going forward”……speaking with regret and remorse of lessons learned as he did not do as he should in renting out his home…He said it has been a struggle…but he was learning from his mistakes…taking care of the property…taking care of those he rents to…and that the many who rent out their homes should not be harmed due to a couple of complaints…He added the rental customers will go to Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale  or Deerfield Beach…He wasn’t saying the properties shouldn’t be policed…fined etc…He spoke of the previous long discussions on the alleyway…saying it was not as important as t this when comparing the impact…the massive implications if not done right…

Jason Clarke (who is a Realtor along with his wife Tanya) came and spoke as a real estate agent about the vacation rentals…and how many of those renters become residents after time spent here…He spoke of VM McIntee’s P.R. presentation of the riptide saves making the news…and reminded all of the recent N.Y. Times article on the pier and local businesses that presented LBTS as a 1st class resort town…He said they have never had any issues with their rentals…no code…no BSO …He said there is case law …many cases where homeowners prevailed when restrictions were placed on them bringing monetary loss…He asked the commission to table this item…to come together …and thwart a class action lawsuit…He said post the ordinance ( the present one)…fine … lose the right to rent…saying “far more are doing it right.”..and finished up by saying…”let this be the 1st class town that it is”

A real estate broker came to speak on behalf of a gentleman from Georgia that had spoken to Comm. Clottey and VM McIntee ( discussed earlier with Assist. Olinzock..this owner was concerned that the ordinance affected his property located on Commercial Blvd….it did not …due to his property being zoned commercial)……She too brought forth conversations with Comm. Clottey of the Comm. wanting to “stop these rentals”…and “somebody will get hurt”…[if they were not shut down]…This agent spoke of those who rent in this fashion…saying they were families with children…

Another real estate broke came up to say she represented 20 different property owners …2 condo associations Sandy- By- The- Sea and Oceanside…and she too spoke of who was seeking out homes on a weekly basis and they do not want to stay in hotels…that they are law-abiding  people..as she read some comments from those vacation renters of why they prefer these kinds of rentals…But, she said if they cannot rent in LBTS they will go to Fort Lauderdale where it is allowed…She too said the commission needed to “quantify the impact”…and she too asked about the alleyway …and the study that was requested…asking if a study was done on this…..(it was not)…asking for one with recommendations…

Dan(wish I had a last name!)…walked to the podium and said he was there to speak on one rental property ..saying this was a “destructive prescription” in this economy…speaking about the increasing burden and the Town of LBTS…as a destination…using the LBTS Chamber of Commerce website and reciting what is says….He went on to talk of the implications how this action fails to show a compelling reason of the public interest being served…He asked “are there any definable, quantifiable metric that inform this policy? Are vacationers that rent a private home or small properties any more inclined to criminal or antisocial behaviors than those that rent in hotels, motels or time shares?…He went after Comm. Clottey…. bringing to light a possible conflict of interest  revealing that he found the timing of this action curious…. saying it was an “understatement” after finding on Sept. 3,2008 she purchased interest in local timeshare property Royal Vista Vacations…He spoke of Comm. Clottey’s assertions at the April 28th meeting concerning signage of low rates and the undesirables it brought to town…He added the Sheriff said there were no problems…he asked for data to back up all the claims made of the negative implications…comparing the action the Commission was about to enact to” radical surgery for  non-specific symptoms!”…He said “this ordinance was remarkable for its short sighted intent, far reaching impact and this is an abuse of power!”

This writer spoke to say that after what the commissioners had heard from these speakers and the fact that yet again a 2nd reading of an ordinance would mostly be tabled…it is time to make some changes in how they operate…by having workshops…getting the word out collecting information before they went down this long road again…saving everyone time and money…for a more productive outcome…

Time for the Commission…and “pitbull Jimmy-boy” Silverstone was up first…He said the issue was not the duration… HUH?…They [commission] should not be “attacked” with looming lawsuits…as if they were “somehow responsible ” the economy and those who bought their homes not to live in but to “flip” and to rent out until they can find the right price for those whose fault it is”…He said he was looking to those who came forward to come up with a “cure” for the noise..the college kids and a way to enforce the problems…because the problems are unenforcable…that BSO can not remove “those people” it is “almost impossible”…He said he didn’t care about the duration that it was their property…but we need to regulate and control people to be able to have BSO throw people out….(Maybe Jimmy-boy isn’t running again after all?)…

Vice Mayor McIntee said he “listened to all your dissertations” (no paperback behind the dais this meeting?)…and he did not like all the direction being put on Comm. Clottey…saying “multiple people” (in the hall may implored “who?”)…had come to her…and were “supportive”…that she was “responding” and this was not a “personal vendetta”…He had done some research (got some swampland for sale…if you buy this…pun intended)…that it’s a terrible time..( for businesses too, VM?)…but added going after Comm. Clottey was “a little out of line”….He asked the Town Atty. if she saw any problems with this…(About that proclaimed research, VM!)…The Town Atty. replied that the commission directed an ordinance…for it to be drafted with a 1 month minimum stay…that she had previously brought to their attention that there was “a lot of litigation” with the minimum rentals…that the longer the time the bigger the issue…Going over his head…VM McIntee got it wrong saying they should go for longer!…Everyone tried to straighten him out!…The Town Atty. spoke of 4 pending matters…and the VM said it might be “advantagious to sit back”…(Groans from the hall)…The Atty. said it might be valid to stand back…delay for a time..but there was no guarantee of a time frame especially in litigation…

Comm. Dodd said this exemplifies why we need workshops…round tables…input …and then write the ordinance…He suggested 3 ways to go…to table for 90 days…for a workshop…or go for the 1 week rental…so we don’t open ourselves up to lawsuits…He too pointed out that the Chief said there were only 2 incidents and they were spring breakers…

Comm. Clottey…clearly looking rattled…said she had been accused of a lot (rightly so)…saying things she says she she did not (some…as previously posted this writer heard firsthand)…admonishing one speaker by saying he was told what to write and making innuendo about her neighbor…her constituent…(unbecoming for an elected official to say)….attempting to set the record straight on her “E-bay” purchase of points on a timeshare trade…saying she recommended it to others for what you can get foe a dollar…and the signage was concerning hotels…She said the “spin is wonderful” …speaking of her neighbors problem with rodents…saying that says it all…She asked the Town Atty. about the 28 days…saying she thought the Atty. did not believe it was a problem….

Comm. Silverstone said they should vote on it …and they could change it later…Comm. Clottey said the “problem has been 7 days”….and asked for a friendly amendment to make 14 (more groans from the hall)…Comm. Silverstone told Comm. Clottey the Town Atty. said it would be a problem….The Vice Mayor said they should table it for 90 days…get background (admitting they were not informed to be at 2nd reading)…and prevent themselves from “putting our foot into a lawsuit”…The Mayor corrected him yet again on the difference between tabling an item and deferring it to a date certain…(Table it..means starting over…with notices etc…deferring it no notice required…leaving it for the residents to keep an eye on its reurn!)…

Mayor Minnet took her shot at it by tying it all up which has become her practice…thanking all that came out…giving kudos to Comm. Clotteys neighbor for admitting his mistakes … making changes….and speaking about it …..She spoke of the landlords adhering to the existing rules…of not supporting this ordinance…understanding the current economic climate…that an ordinance should have stringent permitting…and they should be proactive to support business…regulate and give relief…She spoke of the ramifications ……to increase the bed tax to enforce with hefty fines…suspension of rentals …and then asked BSO Chief Gooding to come and address how many complaints he has received…Chief Gooding said there was a problem in Comm. Clottey’s neighborhood…it turned out to be a mortgage fraud case…He spoke of the multiple call for the spring breakers…about the compliance the BSO has with the landlords tha  it doesn’t take much (Hear that Jimmy?)…minimal calls…less than 10…and most were at the same address… Comm. Silverstone was not letting go of his assertions…asking the Chief…imploring the Chief …about the ability the BSO had in removing somebody…Chief Gooding went through the process….said the landlords could give them that ability…as Realtor Jason Clarke tried unsuccessfully to offer that the ability to remove was contained in the signed leases….and in closing Chief Gooding told Comm. Silverstone what he was looking for (the “cure”) would not even happen with this new ordinance!…OUCH!…

The Mayor called for the motion for a 1 week rental…it passed 3-2 (Comm. Clottey/VM McIntee dissenting)…Comm. Dodd made a motion for a workshop….it passed 5-0…no date set…

As previously posted…vacation renters…keep your eye on this one……For a commissioner who voted on the prevailing side …(Comm. Silverstone voted for it)…can put it back on to overturn!…

Don’t sit down…Don’t sit down…keep on rocking the boat….2010!…

more to come….

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