By Angie Francalancia
Residents in Ocean Ridge have gotten vigilant about calling police and city officials when they see too many different cars and faces coming and going from homes in town. And it’s resulting in an active code enforcement season for residents renting their homes for short-term vacations, said Town Manager Ken Schenck.
“On our books, we have a regulation that says you can’t rent for less than 30 days. As we find people that don’t follow that, then we go through code enforcement.”
In a recent week, the city rounded up about a half-dozen violators, based on neighbors’ tips and complaints, Schenck said.
“Only a couple have gone before the board. Most stop before that point,” he said.
While its an issue every winter season, Schenck said he believes the short-term renters are getting more attention this year because of the rehabilitation houses drawing complaints from coastal Delray Beach neighbors. A neighbor who sees too many cars or too many unfamiliar faces wouldn’t know whether its people renting a vacation home or people in rehabilitation, Schenck said.
“What we have on the books now with certain restrictions allows transient housing. What we need to do is tighten up these restrictions, and our attorney’s looking at that now,” Schenck said, adding that it’s against the law to outlaw rehab houses completely, because people undergoing treatment for substance abuse are a protected class. Schenck said he’s aware of only one rehab house in Ocean Ridge now.
“We know what we have now. We’re trying to figure out how to tighten it up.”
That’s a move that pleases Kristine de Haseth, an Ocean Ridge resident and executive director of the Florida Coalition for Preservation — a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the quality of life on the barrier islands.
“I think from a municipal point of view, everybody is looking to Delray because they’ve already begun the investigation of what is legally possible.”
But whether it’s short-term vacation rentals or stays for rehabilitation, the effect would be the same to a neighborhood, she said. “If you’ve got 52 different neighbors on a yearly basis, that’s as transient as it comes.”
By Angie Francalancia