Sarasota commissioners push to expand vacation rental regulations

In an effort to address ongoing concerns regarding partying, noise, trash, and safety in Sarasota neighborhoods, city leaders are pushing to expand vacation rental regulations beyond the barrier islands. Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch believes that these issues are not limited to the islands and that neighborhoods citywide are experiencing similar problems. Residents like Kelly Brown, who has witnessed the influx of Airbnb rentals in her Gillespie Park neighborhood, are relieved that the city is taking action. The proposed expansion will also introduce a new fee structure to cover the costs of the program, including code enforcement officers dedicated to regulating short-term rentals. While some residents are opposed to the program, Commissioner Ahearn-Koch maintains that the regulations aim to enhance safety, limit bedroom capacity, and ensure proper funding for enforcement. The timeline for the issue to be presented before the commission and the public is yet to be determined.


For years now, vacation rental regulations have been a topic of discussion in Sarasota city commission meetings. Recently, city leaders have taken steps to expand an existing ordinance that regulates short-term rentals from the barrier islands to the entire city.

Expansion of Vacation Rental Regulations

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch explains that over the years, it has become evident that issues such as parties, noise, trash, and safety concerns are not limited to the barrier islands. These problems are also affecting neighborhoods like Arlington Park and Laurel Park, prompting residents from all over the city to ask for help in addressing these issues.

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch’s Statement

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch emphasizes the need for expanded vacation rental regulations, stating that the problems associated with short-term rentals are not exclusive to the barrier islands, but are also occurring in various neighborhoods throughout the city. These issues include excessive noise, increased trash, and safety concerns. The commissioner believes that the expansion of the ordinance will help address these problems and protect the quality of life for all residents.

Concerns in Various Neighborhoods

Residents in neighborhoods like Gillespie Park have expressed their concerns regarding the increasing number of vacation rentals in their community. Kelly Brown, a resident of Gillespie Park, explains that there has been a significant shift in the neighborhood over the past seven years. What used to be long-term renter neighbors has turned into Airbnb rentals, with at least two vacation rentals on every block. Brown highlights issues such as sidewalk obstruction, prolonged presence of trash cans, and disruptions caused by parties. The continuous influx of renters has negatively impacted the quiet enjoyment of her backyard and the overall tranquility of the neighborhood.

Support from Gillespie Park Residents

Residents of Gillespie Park and other neighborhoods on the mainland are relieved to see city leaders advancing plans to expand the vacation rental regulations. The expansion is seen as a step in the right direction to address the concerns and issues caused by vacation rentals. By implementing stricter regulations, residents hope to regain the peace and quiet they enjoyed before the rise in short-term rentals.

Number of Vacation Rentals in Operation

It is estimated that there are approximately 700 short-term vacation rentals currently in operation within the city limits, excluding the barrier islands. This figure highlights the scale of the issue and the need for extended regulations to address the impact of these rentals on local communities.

Implementation of New Fee Structure

With the expansion of vacation rental regulations comes a new fee structure to cover the cost of the program. Currently, the program costs approximately $130,000 per year. However, with the expansion, it is projected that the cost will increase to $315,000 in the second year. In response to concerns raised by residents impacted by vacation rentals, the fees have been increased to ensure the program is self-funded. The new fee structure includes a $500 application fee and a $350 renewal fee. These fees will contribute to covering the costs of dedicated code enforcement officers who will regulate the city’s short-term rentals.

Projected Cost of Program

The estimated cost of the expanded vacation rental program is expected to be $315,000 annually in the second year. This projection reflects the increased enforcement efforts required to regulate short-term rentals throughout the entire city. It is crucial to ensure that the program is adequately funded to effectively address the issues associated with vacation rentals.

Application and Renewal Fees

Under the new fee structure, the application fee for vacation rentals will increase from $250 to $500, while the renewal rate will increase from $150 to $350. The additional funds generated from these fees will contribute to covering the costs of code enforcement officers dedicated to regulating short-term rentals in the city.

Timeline for Further Discussion

At this time, it is unclear when the issue of expanded vacation rental regulations will be brought before the commission for a first reading and public hearing. It is essential to allow for further discussion and input from all stakeholders to ensure that the regulations address the concerns of residents while maintaining a fair balance for property owners.

In conclusion, the expansion of vacation rental regulations in Sarasota is a necessary step to address the issues experienced by various neighborhoods throughout the city. By implementing stricter regulations and a new fee structure, the city aims to keep residents safe, limit the impact of vacation rentals on neighborhoods, and ensure the program is adequately funded. Through continued discussion and collaboration, the city can find a solution that benefits both residents and property owners.