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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending June 29, 2018

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Final Values from Property Appraisers

To: Town Commission

We have now received the final values from both county property appraisers.  As we mentioned during the budget workshops, our initial assumption was an average of 3% combined increase for both counties. The June 1st values averaged 3.68%.  The final values now reflect a 3.99% increase. The increase from the June to July values represents an estimated increase of $36,727.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Short-term rentals and street lighting

To: Town Commission

I am a resident of Longboat Key and have served as medical director of Sarasota County EMS (including Longboat Key Fire Rescue) for thirty-four years.  Please allow me to express my opinion on two issues facing the commission:

First, I hope you will support enforcement of the Town’s short-term rental ordinance.  I love my home and my community.  However, my right to quiet enjoyment of my property is interfered with on a near-daily basis by short-term occupancy of the home across our canal.  The home is owned by an interval owner group of investors.  These owners can and do occupy the residence on a short-term basis.  The result is that, almost every week, a new group of occupants arrive.  Some groups are quiet and courteous, some are not.  The point is, however, that this is against the ordinance.

We have complained to Chris Elbon, Compliance Officer, several times in the past.  The problem with enforcement is the man-hours of work it would take to document each short-term rental and subsequently notify the interval ownership group that it is in violation of the ordinance.  It would be so much easier just to cite the occupants with a violation and require payment of escalating fines for each infraction.  I am certain this would promptly stop short-term infraction.

Second, we have paid the assessments for buried utilities on Gulf of Mexico Drive and for Yawl Lane in full.  As you are aware, current street lights are unattractive and dated.  We understand that for approximately $2,000 more per light, decorative street lights could be installed.  Please use your influence with the Town not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  You are spending millions of dollars for underground utilities.  Please take this opportunity to produce a result that we can be proud of…let’s keep Longboat Key special.  Install decorative, high-quality lighting. Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions.

Steven R. Newman, M.D., F.A.C.E.P.

Medical Director, Sarasota County EMS

Longboat Key

 

Schooner Lane short-term rental violation

To: Dr. Steven Newman

Let me assure you that the Town Commission as well as the Town staff are working to overcome the problem we have with illegal rentals on Longboat Key. You may not be aware that even though the Town has strong language in our codes to prevent residential rental of less than 30 days. The state has been trying for years to prevent local communities from regulating these rentals. Other communities have been prevented from passing laws like we have. Longboat Key was allowed to keep our ordinances only because they have been in place for more than 30 years,

Unfortunately, the state only allows us to regulate rental using the laws as they were written 30 years ago. Any change would void our laws. Unfortunately, we have some language in our laws that limit our abilities to enforce them. For example the definition of family in our code is a problem. I have attached a copy of the definition so you can see what I mean. Many people can be considered family. If we change the definition, our laws will be void.

We also have a problem with enforcement because of our current system of ‘Code Enforcement.’ The good news is that the Town has been working on new methods of enforcement that should be in place soon. We will be using a ‘Magistrate’ to enforce the law in the future which will be more like a person being issued a ticket for a driving violation. The magistrate, unlike Chris, will be able to write the violator a ticket on the spot. If they are still there tomorrow, he will issue another citation. The owner of the property as well as the rental agency will also be issued a citation. This new system should help regulate this problem. I hope this information has been helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

You are very kind, and your complete reply is so much appreciated. I learned so much about the situation from your description. I knew the state was involved, but did not understand how precarious our town’s ordinance actually was.

Debbie and I actually are totally in favor of families coming to Florida to enjoy our sunshine and waterways. It is just at the venue, being a residential neighborhood, is not appropriate.

Again, thank you so much for your caring reply. You may be interested to know that you are the only one of the seven commissioners who took the time to reply.

Steven R. Newman, M.D.

Longboat Key

 

To: Dr. Steven Newman

On June 4, the Commission adopted a new ordinance and fee schedule permitting Longboat Key enforcement officers to issue citations and assess fines for a variety of infractions, including illegal short-term rentals.  Citations and fines can be assessed against the owner, tenant and broker for each day a violation occurs.

I am forwarding your note to Chris Elbon and to Allen Parsons, who oversees the citation process as Director of Planning and Zoning.  With their new enforcement tools, I am sure they will contact you and look into your issue again.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Ken Schneier

Thank you for your timely and complete reply. I look forward to hearing from Chris Elbon.

Steven R. Newman, M.D.

Longboat Key

 

To: Dr. Steven Newman

I share Commissioners Daly, Brown and Schneier comments as well as our Town Manger, Tom Harmer’s remarks. Unfortunately, short term rentals on Longboat Key are becoming more of a problem. We all hope that the new citation process will help solve the short term rentals problems.

I share your concerns as our home is all most surrounded by five different homes which are rented out sometimes as short term rentals with all of the problems that you have mention. I would be interested if you notice any improvement after the Town starts the citation process. Please let me know if there is any thing you think the Town can do differently. Regards, Randy Clair, District 1 Commissioner.

Randy Clair

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Randy Clair

Thank you for your timely and complete response. I most definitely will keep you informed regarding progress in our neighborhood.

Steven R. Newman, M.D.

Longboat Key

 

To: Dr. Steven Newman

Be advised that in early June, the Commission approved the citation process , which will be implemented in the very near future. Accordingly, by this note, I am asking The Town manager to follow up on your reported incidents. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thank you for your timely and complete reply. I have already heard from Mr. Harmer.  Debbie and I sincerely appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

Steven R. Newman, M.D.

Longboat Key

 

Code Enforcement Citation Program

To: Town Commission

We have officially initiated the citation program today with the issuance of our first citation. It was for a short-term vacation rental in a residential district. We anticipate issuing additional citations to other parties for this violation and will continue to follow up on potential subsequent violations as appropriate.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Code Enforcement Citation Program

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

This afternoon, Code Enforcement served the Town’s first civil citation (following the Town Commission’s recent adoption of the Civil Citation and Fee Resolution Code Enforcement tools) on a short-term rental tenant occupying a residential property, in acknowledged violation of the Town’s Short-Term Vacation Rental requirements (Town Code, Ch. 158).

The Town’s Short Term Rental requirements are intended to preserve and enhance the residential character of the Town. The requirements prohibit the use or occupancy, by any person, of any property for transient lodging purposes where the term of occupancy is less than one month, unless the property is located in one of the Town’s designated Tourism zone districts (T-3 or T-6) or otherwise explicitly approved by the Town Commission (examples include: the MUC-2 zone district or in tourism uses that were legally conforming as of October 1982, but were rendered legal nonconforming uses, by virtue of Ord. 82-10).

The property where the citation was issued is residentially zoned and is therefore not eligible to be rented on a short-term (< 1 month) basis.

In addition to the tenant, who was cooperative, the property manager and property owner will also be served with citations for this violation, based in part on publicly available on-line information indicating the property is being marketed to potential purchasers of Fractional Home Shares for short-term use and is being marketed to potential short-term tenants via an on-line vacation rental site. Code Enforcement will continue to follow-up on this site, as additional violations impose escalating fees.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key 

 

Code Enforcement follow-up

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Monday morning Commissioner Daly forwarded me a copy of the letter from Dr. Newman regarding his code enforcement complaint.  The letter I received was addressed to Commissioner Daly but I understand that each of the Commissioners also received the same letter.  Several of the Commissioners have responded to Dr. Newman highlighting our code regarding short term rentals and our new citation process.  This is a good example of the type of case that the staff can pursue through the new citation process.

I also responded to Dr. Newman yesterday morning and let him know that his concern has been forwarded to me and that we would be following up.  I discussed the issue with Allen yesterday and then met with the Town Attorney and Allen yesterday afternoon to discuss that specific complaint and their follow-up.  Code Enforcement is following up and will update me on their efforts. If you have any questions or need any additional information please feel free to contact me.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

FDOT Lighting Justification Study

To: Town Commission

We have now received the Lighting Justification Study Report from FDOT for GMD.  Listed below is a high level summary from the Study.   The staff is currently still reviewing the report and will be factoring it into their next update on the project.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Lighting Warrants Summary

A continuous lighting system is not recommended for any segment since the TAC Lighting Warrants criteria of more than 60 points and/or a night-to-day collision ratio of greater than 2.0 is not met. Net present value analysis does not need to be performed, since the lighting requirements are not met. Signalized intersections with marked crosswalks and pedestrian midblock crossings should have intersection lighting per FDOT Design Manual requirements. Lighting of individual locations should be considered as follows:

• Signalized Intersection at Longboat Club Road (South) (17030, MP 3.870)

• The intersection currently has lighting and should be analyzed to ensure that current pedestrian lighting standards are met.

• Pedestrian midblock crossing at Longboat Club Road (North) (17030, MP 5.077)

• Signalized Intersection at Bay Isles Parkway (17030, MP 6.934)

• The intersection currently has lighting and should be analyzed to ensure that current pedestrian lighting standards are met.

• Pedestrian midblock crossing north of Buttonwood Drive (17030, MP 7.690)

• Pedestrian midblock crossing north of Royal Road (17030, MP 8.760)

• Pedestrian midblock crossing north of Banyon Bay Club (13080, MP 1.610)

• Pedestrian midblock crossing south of Spanish Drive (13080, MP 2.241)

• Segment TAC Warranting

• Points Warranted Night-to-Day

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

FDOT Lighting Justification Study

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Does this mean that we will have even less GMD road lighting than we have now?   

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

FDOT Lighting Justification Study

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

As I understand it, where they are recommending lighting- it will require meeting the new standard so it will be more illuminated than it is now.  But in the rest of GMD where we may have lights they are not recommending any lighting. This is separate from multiuse path lighting and any lighting we may do at the intersections of our Town roads. The staff is still reviewing the report and having follow-up discussions with the FDOT staff, but it appears we may have some flexibility on lighting other areas of GMD at the Town’s discretion but if we do those specific areas will be required to meet their new illumination standard.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

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