Search “private homes vacation rentals” and you will find more than 270 listings for central Vero Beach. Given that short-term rentals, also known as transient occupancy dwellings, are prohibited in residential areas, clearly Vero Beach has a code enforcement problem.
Violator-in-chief of this particular city code is Councilwoman Tracy Carroll. She and her husband own a home located at 530 Camellia Lane that is currently advertised for rentals for as short as six days.
As recently as April 10th of this year, one guest who stayed in the Carroll beachside “hotel” wrote, “My family and I had a great time in Vero Beach. We loved this house. It was fairly close to the beach but just across the street from a great park. The house was very roomy and the kids had their own space including a couch and tv area upstairs. We recommend this house for your family.”
Another guest who stayed in the Carroll’s Camellia Lane home in February wrote, “John (Carroll) the owner is very pleasant and easy to work with. He is also close by if you need him. When we rented the home there was a $150.00 money back incentive upon arrival for a quick booking. This was a great bonus and John had the cash when we got there. This rental is well worth the money and you will certainly not be disappointed. We would rent this property again from John in a heartbeat.”
Last summer the same issue of the Carrolls renting homes for terms shorter than allowed by city code came up when they rented a home on Seagrape Drive for a week to a family of 15. The Carrolls no longer own the home on Seagrape Drive, but they continue to advertise and rent the Camellia Lane home under terms that are prohibited by city code.
Randy Fryar, who lives near the home the Carrolls owned on Seagrape Drive, wrote in a letter to Planning Director Tim McGarry, “The real slap in the face is that Councilwoman Tracy Carroll was sent a memo by Department Correspondence June 24, 2011. She defies the law and proceeds, not caring for the property values in our community.”
In the June 24, 2011 letter from McGarry to Carroll which Fryar cited, McGarry wrote, “The use of a residential building to provide temporary short-term lodging to the transient public in a manner similar to hotels, motels, and guest houses or lodges, clearly exhibits commercial characteristics thereby excluding such uses from the City’s residential districts.”
According to McGarry, his department, which is responsible for code enforcement, has just two officers, and is thus challenged to see that the city’s codes prohibiting short-term rental are enforced and obeyed, even by City Council members.
With violators such as the Carrolls facing fines of just $50, there is little disincentive for those inclince to ignore the law. Councilwoman Pilar Turner, recently wrote “Unfortunately, Vero Beach’s Ordinance is weak and does not provide sufficient penalties to encourage compliance.”
One issue here is the clear interest and responsibility the city has to protect the character of its residential neighborhoods. If Vero Beach is unable or unwilling to enforce its codes and zoning laws, the central beach may come to resemble less and less the quiet residential enclave it has been for decades, and may take on more and more the ethos of a party town.
A second issue here has to do, not with policy, but with a sitting City Councilmember persistently flaunting the rule of law.
Consider how uncomfortable it must be for McGarry and his code enforcement officers to have to confront a City Councilmember about their continued disregard for the law.
Residents of Vero Beach live under and are expected to abide by city ordinances that do now allow for the short-term rental of residential properties.
But, of course, ordinances can be changed, most of them by a simple majority of the five-person City Council. If the property owners of Vero Beach want to petition the City Council for a change in the ordinances governing residential rentals, that is their right.
In the mean time, it remains everyone’s right to expect that city ordinances will be enforced and respected, especially by members of the City Council.
The Indian River Neighborhood Association announces the retirement of Brian Carman as its Executive Director effective June 1, 2013. Mr. Carman served in this position for over 4 years and cited his desire to spend more time on issues affecting the Indian River Lagoon and his upcoming duties as President-elect of the Rotary Club of Vero Beach Sunrise. "It has been a very rewarding experience working with the membership of the IRNA", Mr. Carman stated. "The IRNA has much to offer the community and I am proud to have served as its first Executive Director."
Mr. Carman has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors providing him the opportunity to focus on the health of the Lagoon as a member of the Board's Water-Lagoon Committee. He will continue as a spokesman for the IRNA on these and other matters.
Honey Minuse, Chair of the Executive Committee, said, "Brian developed the role of Executive Director; not an easy task when you consider our Boards and membership were always engaged in developing issues throughout Indian River County. We are all deeply appreciative of the work he did for us and the community and grateful he continues to serve the community through his role on our Board of Directors."
Succeeding Mr. Carman in the position of Executive Director is Daniel Lamson, a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in American Government and Politics. "I am really looking forward to my work with the IRNA," he said last week. "Its representation of neighborhoods throughout the county is very important and I am pleased to be a part of it as our municipalities and county continue to grow. I share the IRNA's desire to preserve the wonderful qualities of our communities while working to see that growth can continue in such a way that will not only preserve but enhance these qualities."
Mr. Lamson continued, "I will work hard to make the county and all its municipalities a wonderful place to live and work and welcome suggestions from members of the public whether they are members of the IRNA or not. I can be reached at (772) 794-IRNA (4762) or through the IRNA website.
As the IRNA and others have been raising the issue of the crisis facing the Indian River Lagoon, Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc called for a county-wide symposium on the causes and possible solutions to the problems. Held on March 16th at Commission Chambers, the symposium hosted speakers from the scientific community, the water districts and the community at large. This all day symposium examined the area history, pollution indicators, sources of pollution and remedies. The IRNA called for actions from the county and water management districts. We believe that the economic and quality of life benefits of a healthy lagoon are of the utmost importance to our community. The IRNA has recommended the following:
Just a year ago, Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County was straining at the walls of their leased space in the Vero Beach Marina and applying to the City for space in MacWilliam Park to build a larger building. It wasn't going well as the City showed no interest to have a building built at the park. With the help of the IRNA the Foundation found a desirable location with several hundred feet of dedicated canal frontage, a riverfront area for the parents to watch the students sail and a 5 bay surplus building that was on the campus of the Water Treatment facility at the foot of the Alma Loy Bridge. Two months later, the YSF and City of Vero Beach signed a 5 year, renewable lease for that property.
The YSF had been formed just 2 years earlier to teach the county's youth both how to build small Optimist sailboats and how to sail them for enjoyment and competition, all at no cost to the students. They had either built or were donated 20 Optis (8') and had 15 active students.
Now in their new home and 3,800 sq.ft. of building space, the Program has exploded. There is a fully equipped boat building and maintenance shop, proper classroom space and protected boat storage space. The fleet has expanded to 28 Optis and 8 donated C420 scholastic competition sailboats (14 foot) which are half way thru a complete renovation program. Thirty five volunteers (some IRNA Board members) donate considerable time to building and maintaining boats and providing age specific classroom, waterside and on-the-water training for 46 students. TheYSFis one of our favorable charitable organizations. For more information go to www.YSFIRC.com
To read the entire Newsletter click on Read More
September 2, 2012
The IRNA has not taken a position for or against the sale by the City of Vero Beach of its Electric Utility. We recognize many members living outside the City and who are serviced by Vero Beach Electric feel they have been treated unfairly by the City and want to change their provider. Members in the City, while sympathetic to that viewpoint, are non-committal because of concerns about the future of the City should the Utility be sold.
As expected, Governor Scott signed into law HB 7207. We are now faced with no checks and balances on local government decisions. The ability of citizens to challenge local decisions is almost gone and rural lands are now open for sprawling development. Our elected representatives and the Governor have been very thorough.
We thank our members who wrote, called and emailed the Governor urging him not to sign this bill and asking him instead to create a bi-partisan committee to reform growth management. Please click on the link below for a very interesting analysis of a bill that will go down in infamy
St. Petersburg Times -- An obituary for Florida Growth Management, June 5, 2011
Local governments will soon restructure their planning and development processes to reflect the new law. Without the former protections that were in place our local vigilance to amendments on growth plans is more relevant than ever before.
As always, we look forward to hearing from our members on these matters. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Today’s political climate is volatile. Frustrations and anger abound. Politicians look to ride this emotional wave by over simplifying complex issues with rhetoric and hyperbole. In this environment, the voting public is being asked to court the extremes of politics and ignore the basic, central issues that make our community desirable and viable. Angry, divisive politics can only yield angry divisive politicians and bad government. Slogans and bumper stickers are a poor substitute for good governance. What is missing is balance!
Our quality of life rests on the metaphor of the Three Legged Stool. Imagine a stool based on three legs of equal length and substance. Were any of the legs out of proportion, whatever rests atop is no longer stable.
The three legs supporting our Quality of Life are:
A Robust and Diverse Economy One that is capable of providing good jobs and stable employment. Such an economy can survive the ever changing ebb and flow of business activity. A sound educational facility such as IRSC coupled with a business friendly environment can lead to a more sustainable economy. There are no shortcuts, no pixie dust to sprinkle on the problem. There is no substitute for planning and hard work. If we allow fringe politicians to gut our land use plans and not insist that population growth pay for itself, our economic leg will be out of proportion, unbalancing the stool. Remember, it is now a proven fact that uncontrolled residential building can never be the basis for a sustainable economy. It has failed us, just as we predicted.
An Open, Transparent and Responsive Government The good old boy network has allowed unmanaged growth to unbalance our economy in the past. Backroom deals designed to grant favors to political campaign donors in exchange for favorable legislation threatens the things we love about our community. Public hearings, proper notice to the community and accountability are needed in local government. Without this, we are out of balance, and our Quality of Life is, once again, unstable.
Respect for Our Environment We live in a beautiful part of the world. The Indian River Lagoon and our beaches provide habitat and enjoyment for plants, animals and the people of Indian River County and our many tourists who add to our economy. Responsible stewardship of this environment is vital to our Quality of Life. It cannot and must not be allowed to be exploited by an uncaring and greedy power structure.
The Indian River Neighborhood Association is the only non-partisan, non-profit organization in the county that speaks to and supports balance in today's angry political environment.
Every Monday morning on WTTB 1490 at approximately 8:20 am, Bob Soos will interview Honey Minuse, Chair of the IRNA Executive Committee, on his show "Morning Magazine". They will discuss issues that are current and effect the people of Indian River County. These issues impact all of us and will ultimately be determined by a political vote in the county and the municipalities.
You can catch the show every week on our website here.