Vacation Rentals, Recovery Homes Controversy Erupts at City Hall

Vacation Rentals, Recovery Homes Controversy Erupts at City Hall

By Bryan Boggiano

Eight residents from Running Brook Hills addressed the city commission at the Feb. 16 meeting, alleging that the city was not doing enough to regulate vacation rentals and recovery houses.

Judy and Philip Averbuch have been residents since 1974, raising their two children in Running Brook Hills. Their grandchildren now visit their home.

“It’s a wonderful residential area; it’s a beautiful street,” Philip said. “We want to keep it so that people are safe so that they are happy.”

They believe their neighborhood is becoming less safe, and sober houses and vacation rentals opening on their block make their community unsafe.

Across the street,  Judy said one vacation rental property could have up to ten cars in the parking lot with liquor-filled trash cans. She also said that being close to vacation rentals for people in sober houses brings them close to drugs and alcohol.

“I don’t know if this feels very safe,” she said. “I don’t want to live in an area where I don’t feel safe.”

Another resident, Theresa Caldone,  cited a rental property that has parties with private security, maximum occupancy exceeded, and people smoking marijuana across from a drug treatment facility.

Arthur Germain said that he feels unsafe for the first time in 33 years and doesn’t feel safe walking his dog down the block at night.

“I love all these people. I love this community,” he said. “This isn’t about me; this is about us.”

But it is not just one or two properties on the block. Linda Kendricks, a 36-year resident, said that five out of about 35 houses are vacation rentals or sober homes on her block, which she claimed is turning the residential neighborhood into a commercial district.

Under Florida law, local governments cannot ban vacation rentals or regulate how frequently people rent these properties.

In June 2021, the city commission passed an ordinance regulating vacation rentals. Following its passage, rental property owners need to obtain a certificate of compliance with the city, have a valid rental license, and register their properties with the city annually by Sept. 30.

Vacation rentals must follow bedroom occupancy limits of two people per room, park all rental property cars on that property, and adhere to city codes such as trash and noise ordinances, among other actions.

Vice Mayor Simmons expressed empathy for the Running Brook Hills residents, saying that he is going through something similar in his neighborhood.

“I do not want any of our neighborhoods turning into commercial entities in any way,” he said. “I don’t want multiple commercial properties operating next to residential homes where people are raising their families.”

Mayor Brook said that he would discuss rental properties further with city staff and city attorney John Hearn to include stricter code enforcement and a strike system to document code violators. He also plans to visit Running Brook Hills to get a sense of the situation.

Mayor Brook said, “I do believe we live in a fantastic community, and there are some people that are maybe violating our codes, and if they’re making a neighborhood feel unsafe, we have to do something about it.”

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Vacation Rentals, Recovery Homes Controversy Erupts at City Hall

Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.

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