Upchurch: We can't wait for the state

In a unanimous show of support to improve the quality of life for residents over the business interests of property owners looking to maximize the return on their real estate investments, the City of St Augustine passed three ordinances regulating short-term rentals last night.

House Bill 1011 and Senate Bill 1128, if passed at the state level, would preempt local governments from regulating short-term rentals, as St. Augustine city commissioners did Monday.  Mayor Tracy Upchurch explained why the city acted despite proposals for state regulation.

“I think in part we’re sending a message to the legislature that this is a concern in our city, and we’re trying to resolve it, we’re trying to address it,” said Upchurch. “We’ve got to do what we have to do, and if the legislature preempts us entirely, then we’ll respond the best we can.”

Ordinance summary:

  • Ordinance, 2019-50, regulates short-term rental registration, inspections, intensity of use, occupancy, life-safety standards, parking, solid waste and more.
  • Ordinance 2019-51 limits short-term rental owners with properties in certain single-family zones to renting their properties out no more than once per week.
  • Ordinance 2019-52 limits short-term rental owners with properties in the historic preservation district to renting those properties out no more than once per month.

During the public comment period, Historic City News local reporters observed homeowners who complained of parties going into the night, trash pileups and parking overflows; while real estate investors gave their negative impression of the new city ordinances.

“If they make it a seven-day minimum, basically they’re going to put us out of business, and I don’t think it’s fair,” short-term rental owner Roberto Bello said.

“We can’t wait for the state,” Mayor Upchurch said in conclusion.