Keeping "Home Rule" in Treasure Island

Keeping "Home Rule" in Treasure Island
Proposed bills could gut local ordinances

Many of the proposed bills before the current Florida Legislature are further limiting a local government’s home rule authority – this means that Tallahassee, not Treasure Island, will have the power to address your concerns. Here are four bills being considered at this time. At the end of this article are the addresses of State Representative Jennifer Web and State Senator Jeff Brandes so you can contact them directly. A complete list of your Florida elected officials and contacts can be found HERE. There is also a spreadsheet of proposed legislation HERE.

1) HB 3– This preempts the local government from providing a business license to the local businesses.  This would make the state responsible for such licensing.  One effect of this law would be to eliminate a current funding source from your local government – and making your local government make-up that lost funding from another source.  This is the speaker’s priority.

2) HB 101 - This bill revises the amount of retainage a local government can withhold during construction.  Current industry standard is 10%.  Meaning in the private sector a property owner will withhold paying the contractor the last 10% until the project is finished – the final punch list completed.  This bill would make it so governments could only withhold 5%.  Making it easier for a contractor to walk off the job and holding government to an amount that is below the industry standard.

3) HB 693– Last year the legislature passed a law that allowed communication facilities to use City right of ways without much if any fee and limited permitting.  This was commonly referred to as 5G.  This year the legislature is proposing even more limitation on the local government to protect its right of way and allowing communication companies to come in and place their equipment in the public’s right of way without the city being able to regulate its location or charge any fee.  Cities purposely limit potential projectiles due to hurricanes – this would not be allowed with communications equipment if this law passes.  If it passes it would allow free use of the public’s right of way for all communication service providers.  If it passes and you don’t like that a service provider erected their equipment in the public right of way in front of your home – you will have to call Tallahassee because there is nothing TI can do.

4) HB 987/SB 824– This bill deals with short-term rentals.  Cities are not able to regulate short term rentals except if they had the regulation in place as of June 1, 2011.  This proposed law would remove that exception.  It would make all current regulations subject to challenge and the legal burden to show that the regulation was reasonable is heightened to clear and convincing.  Not only does this heighten the burden but it shifts the burden to the government. Instead of the local government’s ordinance being presumed valid and the challenger having to prove it invalid by a preponderance of the evidence, if this law passes, the government will have the burden of proving its law valid and at a higher burden convincing the judge by clear and convincing evident.
Some talking points:

  • This is a local zoning issue. Commercial activity in residential neighborhoods is regulated for good reason: to protect residents and ensure adequate infrastructure is in place.
  • A solution is needed that balances the property rights of all. Issues with unruly behavior, parking and public safety are destroying the residential character of traditional neighborhoods. Residents suffer while corporations profit.
  • The ripple effect of unregulated short-term rentals is exacerbating the affordable housing crisis. Homes are being converted into mini-hotels, thereby reducing long-term rental stock available in communities and causing a workforce housing shortage.
Bottom line - If this passes, expect challenges to the cities’ existing short-term rental ordinances and even less regulation of short term rentals.

Representative Jennifer Webb 
Capitol Office: 1402 The Capitol, 402 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300 Phone: (850) 717-5069
District Office: 6798 Crosswinds Drive, Suite C-105, St. Petersburg, FL 33710-5477 Phone: (727) 341-7385

Senator Jeff Brandes
Capitol Office: 416 Senate Office Building, 404 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-110  Phone: (850) 487-5024
District Office: 
9800 4th Street North, Suite 200, St. Petersburg, FL 33702  Phone: (727) 563-2100