The Longboat Observer sat with Longboat's planning, zoning and building director to discuss the town's use of its newly acquired citation process.
Longboat Key's Code Enforcement Board defended the town's citation process this month, an affirmation of a code enacted June 4 by the Town Commission.
So in effort to understand the town's position on using punitive measures to get residents and visitors to comply with its codes, the Longboat Observer sat with Allen Parsons, planning, zoning and building director, to discuss the citation process as it's been administered in the past month and a half.
What is the department’s goal in administering the citation process?
It’s a newly adopted enforcement tool — so it’s an additional tool. Our goal with enforcement always is compliance. We’re attempting in anything that we do to one make people aware of code requirements in the town if they don’t know what those code requirements are and then, two, when someone is not complying with the codes, to ultimately get to compliance.
How do you measure the success of this specific tool?
When you see someone who may be on a receiving end of a citation, that they come into compliance, is a measure of that. In the case of some of the short-term rental citations that have been given, early indications are that recipients of those were not aware that they could not rent out their units or houses for less than 30 days and are making changes to comply. That’s success right there.
What other tools do you have?
The first one is always to try to get compliance through education, making someone aware of that. So that’s always step one. Making someone aware that something is a code requirement, and if they’re not going to comply with that, we have code enforcement.
What are you doing in terms of education outreach specifically with the four focus areas for the citation process?
Social media, website, we’ve had announcements that have gone out to various interest groups, including, on the short term rental, to the Realtors Association of Sarasota-Manatee. There are meetings that are held with different homeowners' groups or condominium associations. Our website information, and just sort of day to day interactions: If someone is called out to a location to make whoever that is aware of that.
How does citing tenants for short-term rentals help to achieve the goal of compliance?
It’s not a seeking out a renter in that case. Since we have initiated the citation process, we are using discretion on the renters, because I think they’re far less likely to be in the know about something if you're visiting the town and ultimately getting back to compliance being the end result. The real responsible party involved that can do something about that would be either the owner or, if there is a rental agent, to include the rental agent as well. We’re generally not citing the renters.
How do you mean generally not citing the renters? Where is that line of discretion?
There is discretion largely in the cooperation that were getting. We're dependent upon someone who’s staying at a place assisting with the information about whether they are in fact the owner or whether they are renting for some period less than a month. That kind of cooperation is something that’s helpful in being able to make that case. When were getting that kind of cooperation, no need essentially to give a citation.