Modified zoning text amendments to regulate vacation rentals in Wellington have worked their way through public hearings at the Wellington Village Council, and the ordinance was officially approved on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
The key problem around vacation rentals locally occurs when someone rents a large home and then packs it with guests for a party.
“We are not against vacation rentals,” Mayor Anne Gerwig said. “We started this in response to a problem. We want to keep our great hometown great.”
Florida law permits vacation rentals, and local governments can regulate their uses but cannot prohibit them. However, homeowners’ associations may legally, contractually prohibit vacation rentals in their developments.
Palm Beach County and the State of Florida each provide licensing for the collection of taxes by vacation rental owners. A responsible party must be registered for the vacation rental ownership, and an affidavit acknowledging the regulations must be signed.
“This ordinance provides a single place to put all the rules for running a for-profit business that operates in a neighborhood as they are allowed by state law. It is objective and enforceable,” Village Manager Paul Schofield said.
The rules do not take anything away that had been permitted unless one finds oneself listed on the national sex offender list. Rather, the code brings together all the related rules in one place to provide easy access for vacation rental users and owners.
The code doesn’t permit sex offenders to rent within 2,500 feet of a school or school bus stop. The state regulations prohibit sex offenders from renting within 1,000 feet of these. “We can be more but not less restrictive,” Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said.
Village Engineer Tim Stillings reiterated that the regulations address standards for the number of overnight occupants, day use visitors, parking, licensing, tax collection, database searches, pool regulations and regulations that apply to other homes that also apply to vacation rentals.
He said that the number of cars, which had been a sticking point at the previous meeting, is limited to one per bedroom, and the number of overnight occupants is limited to two persons per bedroom. Children under three years old are not counted. There is no provision for guests that might sleep on fold-out couches. Overnight is defined as between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
While endeavoring to compromise on the parking to take into account larger estate homes that have five or more bedrooms, occupancy regulations were left out. This was revised at the meeting with the assistance of Cohen.
Councilman Michael Drahos made a motion to approve the measure, seconded by Vice Mayor Tanya Siskind. The motion passed unanimously.