Daytona is considering allowing short-term vacation rentals on its beach

DAYTONA BEACH – For decades, property owners have wanted to take advantage of their Daytona Beach homes and condos short term holiday rental have encountered a wall of opposition in City Hall.

Now Mayor Derrick Henry is proposing that the city make an exception to its ban on apartment rentals for less than six months in only one part of the city: the tourist core area on the beach.

Henry wants to facilitate rentals for a few days, weeks, or months between East International Speedway Boulevard and Oakridge Boulevard, and between Halifax Avenue and State Road A1A.

At Wednesday night’s city commission meeting, Henry said it was “a perfect place for Daytona Beach to offer vacation rentals.”

“The large number of smaller homes with easy beach access and plenty of space for new businesses to accommodate those visitors in the area is a winning combination,” said Henry. “With the changes now taking place on Oakridge and soon on the East ISB, Daytona Beach is poised for a boom.”

A majority of city commissioners said they were keen to talk more about Henry’s idea and to consider a formal proposal that would only allow that part of the beach to be rented out in the short term.

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For many years, the city has only allowed rentals for less than six months in areas of Daytona Beach’s tourist zones and municipal redevelopment areas, which also allow hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. Bed and breakfast establishments can also legally operate in a residential area if the area is an established historic district.

Many people have ignored Daytona Beach rules and still rented homes and condos through Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online vacation rental companies. The city has cracked down on illegal rentals in recent years, hitting owners with code violations for not being licensed to rent their properties.

Case for the approval of short-term rentals

Henry said he’s been considering relaxing the rules on short-term beach rentals for nearly a year. He said he was aware “that this is very sensitive in our community”.

“We know there will be people who will not support that,” Henry said.

But he thinks it’s the right thing to do.

The city has struggled for decades to revitalize the beach around Main Street and Ocean Center, with little success. Henry said the short-term rents could be a catalyst to finally reverse the area between the Halifax River and the ocean.

Daytona Beach City Manager Deric Feacher conducted a walking tour of the city's beach back in November to revitalize the area.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Henry completed a list of seven reasons why he claims vacation rentals are “an excellent way” to improve the beachfront neighborhood known as Surfside Village and “strengthen our Main Street area.”

Henry said he wants Main Street, which is currently dominated by bars and restaurants, to be more of a shopping district and a venue for festivals. He envisions creating places that vacationers can walk to from their rental properties.

Continue reading:Uphold Daytona’s short-term rental ban in residential neighborhoods

He argues that short-term rentals would encourage homeowners and investors to upgrade run-down properties. Higher property values ​​would mean more money for public facilities and infrastructure, he said.

Henry also argues that vacation rentals would provide additional income opportunities for local owners, and vacation rental visitors would breathe new life into the area and patronize nearby businesses. He said this could spur other companies to open.

He also points out that travelers who prefer a home environment to a hotel room must now go to another city. And he said licensing, regulating and monitoring vacation rentals that try to stay under the radar would minimize the negative impact they can have on surrounding properties.

What beach residents say

Henry and residents from the Mayor’s Beachside Committee visited 112 occupied properties between East ISB and Oakridge and either spoke to residents or left the flyer explaining the mayor’s idea.

The group spoke to 38 people in the homes and asked them what they thought of the mayor’s short-term rental idea. A total of 27 people in the homes like the idea, nine said they were neutral about the proposal and two said they disliked it, Henry said.

One woman who lives on South Hollywood Avenue said most of the neighborhood already has short-term rentals, and she lives next door, according to the group’s survey.

Daytona Beach's main street draws large crowds only during Bike Week, Biketoberfest, and a few annual festivals.  Mayor Derrick Henry hopes that allowing short-term vacation rentals around Core Beach would spark new developments and real estate improvements in the area.

Though it’s getting better, the beach still has a lot of run-down properties, Henry said. There’s also a small percentage of homes between East ISB and Oakridge, he said.

Henry shared figures from the Volusia County Real Estate Surveyor’s Office showing that only 13% of the homes between Seabreeze Boulevard and Main Street are occupied. From Main Street to ISB, the rate jumps to just over 24%.

South of the ISB to Silver Beach Avenue, it increases to 29%.

Henry believes competition among short-term rental properties would spur owners to renovate their homes, which in turn could attract more homeowners.

“It would encourage those who own these properties to take it to another level,” Henry said.

The legal side of rent

City Attorney Bob Jagger said he believes the city would be on sound legal footing if it allowed short-term rentals in the center of the city’s boardwalk.

A state law passed in 2011 states: “No local law, ordinance or regulation shall prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of vacation rentals.”

The city would add more rents, not regulate them or ban them, Jagger said. And the city’s existing short-term rental restrictions were carried over when the 2011 law was passed, allowing those rules to remain in effect for the rest of the city.

“I’m confident the city would be able to defend a lawsuit,” Jagger said.

You can reach Eileen at [email protected]

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