Short-term rentals: Reducing problems in Destin during the summer

Short-term rentals: Reducing problems in Destin during the summer

Spring break is on the horizon and so are many of the headaches that come with the season in Destin.

The city decided to do something about vacation rental homes, which pack people into homes.

Residents said vacation rental homes cause headaches for them throughout the season, but especially as the shoulder season ends and spring break kicks into gear.

It's still winter and many side streets on Holiday Isle don't have traffic problems. The lawns are well-kept and trash isn't in the streets, but it can all change in a flash, said 18-year resident Darryl Shelton.

"We have seen a tenfold increase in short-term housing in Destin. Basically, people are building mini-hotels," Shelton said.

Darryl sits on a committee of four full-time residents and three short-term rental owners who will recommend changes in ordinances they said will get short term rentals in line.

That's in addition to the previous guidelines laid out - like open space requirements and parking.

It's a large undertaking. Short-term house rentals are big business in the city.

The city said 800 houses are registered as short-term rentals They believe the true number is closer to 1,600.

It's big business for tech companies like Airbnb too.

According to Shelton, they have 34 lobbyists in the state legislature and one who shows up at their small meeting every week.

He and other property owners said they'll fight any perceived infringement on their rights.

"Well, they start saying 'it's our right to do what we want with our property.' Well, what about full-time resident's property rights? Because they are not getting the quiet enjoyment of their property if they are having to live next door to mini-hotels," Shelton said.

The mayor said it's a problem they need to take care of as soon as possible.

"I hear reports constantly of folks who have lived here for years wanting to move out because they do not want to live next door to one of these mini-hotels that basically are somewhat uncontrolled. We're going to have to get a handle on it," Mayor Scott Fischer said.

But these regulations could be a moot point if some in the state legislature get their way.

Senator Stuber reintroduced a bill he filed last year, which would take away the right to regulate rentals from cities and counties and move it to the state.

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