Zoning Board Supports Standards For Wellington Vacation Rentals

The Wellington Municipal Complex.

At its meeting on Wednesday, July 8, Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board approved an ordinance modifying land use regulations to adopt standards for vacation rentals in the village.

Development Review Coordinator Cory Cramer explained that vacation rentals are growing in popularity using third-party platforms such as Airbnb to advertise and arrange reservations.

“Florida statutes allow local regulations as long as they don’t prohibit vacation rentals or limit their duration,” Cramer said.

Village staff does not currently know how many vacation rentals are in Wellington, but a web search on some of the third-party platforms found more than 300. “We can always revisit the ordinance and make changes,” Cramer noted.

Cramer went on to explain that the ordinance gives a starting point to at least know how many there are because all of them will need to be counted to comply with licensing and taxing requirements, including the local bed tax.

The new regulations address supplementary standards and register the owner, the responsible party renting the property, and all of the overnight and non-overnight occupants and guests. They prohibit sexual offenders and predators, provide for swimming pool safety, and regulate trash disposal, noise, public nuisance issues, pets, advertising and parking. If a homeowners’ association or similar organization exists, the owner of the vacation rental must have the consent of that organization before requesting a bed tax number. Village code enforcement will handle enforcing the regulations.

“It is no different than the regulations for village-wide rentals,” said Cramer, who explained that the owner must complete an affidavit listing the owner’s and responsible party’s names and contact information, the location of the property, number of bedrooms, parking availability, any third-party platforms they use, and the consent letter from the HOA or similar organization.

Board members discussed the measure for more than an hour, seeking to add additional restrictions to address occupancy numbers and parking issues.

Board Member Ron Herman was concerned about the number of people who could be occupants and non-overnight guests at a single property. The rules allow two people over age five per bedroom and two more per dwelling. Herman was in favor of some sort of a cap and suggested 10 adults.

There have been issues regarding complaints about large parties and parking that have been reported by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Board Member Adam Rabin said that the renters could have six or eight cars and supported a cap of some kind. Board Member Jeffrey Robbert asked if parking availability could be part of the affidavit and thus self-regulatory, and Cramer assured him it was included.

Cramer said that with the wide and varying inventory of single-family, multi-family and estate homes in Wellington, an equitable rule could be unwieldy. “We have large estate properties in the Equestrian Preserve Area that could absolutely hold more than 10 people,” she said.

Cramer said that the ordinance was drafted after reviewing those of other nearby municipalities and in neighboring counties. “We modeled it after the Miami-Dade County ordinance, using that as a template,” she said. “Miami-Dade’s has been in use for some time with no challenges.”

Public comment was available during the meeting via e-mail or phone, but no members of the public responded. The measure passed unanimously as recommended with no changes. It will next go to the Wellington Village Council for final approval.