By Tim O’Meilia
Owners who rent out their single-family homes in Ocean Ridge will now have to register each rental property at Town Hall for $50 annually.
But some residents say the rental registration will do little to discourage short-term rentals in single-family neighborhoods.
“It’s not going to do anything to the bad guys,” resident Bernd Schulte told the Town Commission at the June 3 meeting after members voted 4-0 to institute the registration requirement. “The good guys are going to register, but the bad guys aren’t. I think you’re wasting your time.”
Residents have complained that weekly and even biweekly rentals disrupt single-family neighborhoods and that renters have no investment in the upkeep and security of the neighborhood.
Town law allows homes to be rented for a minimum of 30 days and forbids homes from being occupied by more than five unrelated persons.
The registration law does not apply to apartments or dwellings governed by a condominium association or cooperative.
Violators could be fined up to $250 for a first offense and $500 for further violations. But some residents pointed out that one oceanfront estate rented for $8,000 a week and that a $250 fine would be little deterrent.
“I would really like to see something that carries a strong penalty,” said resident Betty Bingham. She also wants the 30-day rental minimum expanded. “The issue is we’re not correcting the problem.”
In March, Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi said 14 complaints of short-term rentals were made, but most at the same property. He said enforcement typically depends on neighbors filing a complaint.
“This is still going to rely on our neighbors to complain,” Commissioner Gail Adams Aaskov said. “This all seems a little ridiculous,” said Debbie Brookes, whose husband, Ed, is a commissioner. “It’s only going to be enforced if they register. Basically, this ordinance doesn’t have any teeth.”
In other business, the Town Commission:
• Edged toward reversing decades-old plans to phase out the town’s only commercial strip, asking Town Manager Ken Schenck to negotiate the cost of a change in the town’s comprehensive plan to allow both commercial and residential uses at the 5011 building on North Ocean Boulevard at the town’s south border. The two-story, five-store and four-apartment property is scheduled to become residential-only in July 2014. Building owner Lisa Sivitilli agreed to bring plans to spruce up the strip for continued commercial use. The building houses a barber shop, real estate office, a triathlon shop, The Coastal Star and an empty store. The plan changes could cost $10,000.
• Approved spending $213,000 from town reserves for drainage repairs to the Inlet Cay cul-de-sac.
• Tentatively approved, by a 3-1 vote, a $1,000 bonus to retiring police Sgt. Eve Eubanks. Commissioner Ed Brookes said the bonus violates a policy set by the commission two years ago to give $100 bonuses for each year after 20 years to retiring employees. Eubanks was a 15-year employee. Ú
By Tim O’Meilia