We have a growing problem in Plantation: Party homes.

The city administration has tried to get the situation under control, but I’ve been listening to residents and the message is clear: We must do more.

Plantation should be known as a city that puts our residents first. We will have the toughest codes legally possible, and our law enforcement will be there to enforce our strict codes. Moreover, we will share our negative experiences via reviews on rental sites. 

We also need to do better on the front end. Of the estimated 240 short-term vacation rentals in Plantation, fewer than 20 are registered and paying taxes to help offset the costs that residents are currently footing to deal with problems these properties cause. As mayor, I will hire someone to track down those unregistered, and the fees garnered would pay that person’s salary.

On top of that, vacation rental companies are buying up our housing supply. This makes it difficult, and nearly impossible, for new families and first-time home buyers to become part of our community.

But let’s be clear here: There are many good vacation rental owners. They are responsible, they are good neighbors and they get their reputation sullied by a few that just take things too far. I am not at all suggesting there’s a problem there. People have a  right to rent. (Maybe that’s a slogan.) I hope you get that point with this paragraph.

Staying within state law

Many elected officials say “our hands are tied” and there is some truth to that. The Florida Legislature deemed that “home rule,” the idea of local cities making decisions, does not apply to vacation rentals. So legislators say we must treat vacation rentals as any other home. That means we can enforce our existing rules, such as no parking in the street, but it must be enforced the same way as with regular homes.

There is some mushiness in Plantation’s chain of command between police, code enforcement and Planning and Zoning when it comes to vacation rentals. As mayor, I will clean that up. I also will encourage police to mimic Fort Lauderdale, which has a “vacation rental” box they check in police reports so we can gather data on how prevalent our problem is. I’ll also consider a dedicated phone hotline for reporting problems. I’d also work with council members Denise Horland and Jennifer Andreu, who are proposing changes to our noise ordinance and also want to strengthen city laws. (My overall mindset as mayor will be one of collaboration with council.)

Other cities

Hollywood has found a way to require noise meters at vacation rentals. So when the noise reaches a certain level, it triggers a contact to the police. This is one tool that I will consider as your mayor.

Finally, when we discover that a home is a short-term rental property, I will make sure the Broward County Property Appraiser is notified. This is another way to ensure that the owners of these properties are not claiming the Homestead exemption that is only available for full-time residents.

Short-term rentals are an issue that needs to be addressed to ensure that Plantation maintains a high quality of life. That’s why we chose to live here and that’s what I want to maintain.