DeSantis vetoes bill preempting local regulation of vacation rentals

After an alliance of strange bedfellows urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that would preempt local governments from regulating Airbnbs and other vacation rentals, he quietly did just that on Thursday evening.

But the fight is far from over.

Cities and counties campaigned against the bill. So did vacation-rental companies like Airbnb and management companies like Vtrip, but for opposite reasons.

Municipalities opposed the legislation because they were losing control. The companies opposed it because they didn’t get enough control in it, said Jack Cory, a lobbyist for the City of Jacksonville Beach.

“That’s why it’s a strange coalition. The enemy of my enemy is my friend right now,” said Cory. “But that doesn’t mean … that we’re all going to be singing kumbaya next year.”

Airbnb, Vtrips and the Florida Alliance for Vacation Rentals could not be reached in time for publication.

The bill, SB 280, has been several years in the making. In outlining how local governments can regulate vacation rentals, it overrides detailed policies that cities and county governments throughout Florida have put into place since 2014.

DeSantis in a letter to Secretary of State Cord Byrd said the bill “will prevent virtually all local regulation of vacation rentals even though the vacation rental markets are far from uniform across the various regions of the state.”

State Sen. Ileana Garcia, a Republican from Miami, said the bill would have forced Miami-Dade “to start from scratch” regarding the regulation of Airbnbs.

“We’d finally come to a good landing spot,” Garcia said.

Many of those policies relate to how local governments deal with violations like having too many people at a party or noise complaints, which can often be tallied up on the same night, resulting in the suspension of an Airbnb in some places for months. But in the bill, a single month suspension would require violations on five separate days during a two-month period.

“When you parse out how many violations need to occur … it’s tantamount to really being no control at all,” said state Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democrat based in Hollywood.