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Split delegation gives Redington Beach chance to regulate short-term rentals

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Members of the Pinellas Legislative Delegation voted 6-4 Tuesday to pass a local bill that would give Redington Beach a chance to regulate short-term rentals.

The bill, if passed by the Legislature, would give the town a chance to cure a mistake that was made in 2008 when town officials adopted a rule against short-term rentals.

Although the council approved the ordinance, they did not give voters a chance to endorse the rule during a referendum. A referendum is required by the Town Charter. The item never went to a referendum because the then-town attorney said it was unnecessary.

In 2011, the Legislature passed a statute grandfathering in municipal ordinances that were already on the books but banning cities from passing new rules against short-term rentals.

Redington Beach officials thought their ordinance had been grandfathered, but when they went to shut down a short-term rental, they found out the ordinance was invalid. Their current town attorney advised them not to test it in court.

That decision not to test the ordinance irked some delegation members, who said the town was attempting to make the Legislature solve a problem that it had not tried to solve.

“I appreciate the concerns of the residents. I really do. I represent that area,” state Sen. Jeff Brandes said. “The city is unwilling to stand up and defend its own ordinance.”

Some delegation members were also concerned the ordinance would spark lawsuits against the state and the town. And, they worried that the local bill would be precedent setting.

Brandes, and state Reps. Chris Sprowls, Wengay Newton and Jamie Grant, voted against the proposal. All are Republicans except Newton, who is a Democrat.

The other six members of the delegation voted in favor. If the bill passes the Legislature, the town would be allowed to take the 2008 ordinance to a referendum. If that passed, then the ordinance would become retroactively effective to 2008.

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