Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More Annex Owners Sue City

When I first heard about the proposed ordinance to allow Truman Annex homeowners to rent their properties transiently, my immediate reaction was to strongly oppose it. Transient rentals of what were designed to be owner-occupied housing or properties available for long-term rentals (and "affordable" housing in the case of The Shipyard condominiums) has become a business and an investment for many of those owners.

There is an entire industry that has built up around these properties. Begin with the real estate rental agencies who advertise, arrange and manage rentals. Then there are the companies that clean and maintain the rental units, changing linens and such. There are gardeners, pool cleaners, remodelers, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers I probably am not aware about.

When Truman Annex was originally permitted, it is my understanding, they were not presented or permitted as transient, hotel-like facilities, but that's what they soon became. When the city adopted its current transient rental ordinance in late-1997 (Ordinance 97-20), it explicitly amended the Zoning Ordinance, (Ordinance Chapter 122) to prohibit short-term transient rentals in certain areas of the City. Truman Annex is one of those areas.

The so-called Rollinson decision, findings in a lawsuit by Truman Annex resident Opie Rollinson and his wife, required the city to allow the Rollinsons to continue renting their unit(s?) in the Annex transiently, because they were renting for less than 50% of the year prior to the 1997 ordinance change. That ruling was specific to the Rollinsons. The suits announce today are most likely from owners who think they are similarly situated, and that they are likely to prevail in court absent reaching some kind of settlement agreement with the City.

I'm going to attend the City Commission meeting tonight, to try to get a better understanding of the issues. What I think about it right now is that the City Attorney has come up with a long-term solution to a long-term problem, at the expense of a little short-term pain. I hope I'm right.

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