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Sarasota City Commission discusses ordinance to limit occupancy for vacation rentals

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Posted at 10:16 PM, Apr 06, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Sarasota City Commission discussed a proposed ordinance on Tuesday that would limit occupancy for vacation rentals on Lido Key and St. Armands.

A revised ordinance caps the maximum occupancy for vacation rentals located in residential single-family zone districts at 10 people — the same as the original ordinance.

The revised ordinance also caps the maximum occupancy for vacation rentals located in residential multiple family districts at 12 people.

A city spokesperson said residential multiple family districts are simply areas of the city where higher levels of density are allowed for various housing types (i.e. townhouses, apartments, etc.).

Chris Goglia, President of St. Armands Residents Association, spoke at Tuesday's meeting. He said neighbors brought their concerns before the Sarasota City Commission several times.

"The main problem with these high occupancy rental properties that we call 'hotel homes' is they are purposely built to accommodate large groups and the people that live next to these things are dealing with noise, parties. It would be okay if that happened every once and awhile, but it's happening every single week of the year," said Chris Goglia.

The revised ordinance also limits the maximum number of guests on a property to 6 people, that is in addition to the maximum number of occupants staying at the vacation rental, and those guests may not be present between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Julie Bales lives on St. Armands. She told city commissioners she lives next to one of these "hotel houses." She played an audio recording in the meeting demonstrating the noise she hears from her lani.

Another homeowner who lives on Siesta Key said she experienced similar problems.

"An excessive number of occupants, partying and noise well into the night, garbage overflowing and multiple cars on our roads. Every word you have heard about this is accurate for St. Armands and Lido Key and it's true of Siesta Key as well," said Victoria Varela who lives on Siesta Key.

Lido Key Vacations handles rental properties. The company has placed signs in the yards of the properties encouraging guests to be good neighbors. The signs ask guests to use garage parking and park no more than 4 vehicles in the driveway.

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The company tells ABC Action News that vacation rentals provide a huge economic boost to the area. An attorney representing Lido Key Vacations spoke at Tuesday's meeting.

"My clients want to be good corporate citizens. This is a vacation area. We bring $7.6 million worth of economic impact to Sarasota," said Fred Moore, an attorney representing Lido Key Vacations.

The company also sent us the following statement:

"We have shared our thoughts with the City Commissioners regarding the revised ordinance, and we remain hopeful that we will continue to be able to work with the City in developing a vacation rental program that is good for the City, and all of its homeowners, its businesses, and the many out-of-state and in-state visitors that support our local community."

Sarasota City Commissioners voted to cap the maximum occupancy for vacation rentals located in residential single-family zone districts at 10 people and 12 people for multi-family districts. Commissioners voted to remove a cap on the maximum number of guests who may stay at the vacation rentals overnight.

A second reading is scheduled for May 3.