May 15, 2007

Marco Island | Potential Rental Crisis

"Below is a letter we sent to the Marco Island City Council, please take action before our property values are significantly impacted by this"

Paul Demos

Why is there always one person cackling "The Sky is Falling" while the rest of us see sunshine? In short, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL REASON TO OUTLAW WEEKLY VACATION RENTAL HOMES ON MARCO ISLAND. Such an action would only benefit the vocal minority to the detriment of the community at large.

In an article published in the Naples News on May 7th of this year a Marco Island resident named Karen Salvi, complains about the noise from her next door neighbor's vacation rental property. Karen says that "A 30-day minimum rental would stop the problem". What this article fails to address are the basic questions that every reasonable person should be asking when considering this topic in relation to the welfare of the whole community:

Why is a weekly vacation rental home an issue and for whom?

There are compulsive complainers and excessive noise makers in every neighborhood. Abolishing weekly vacation rental homes isn't an answer for dealing with either group. Most of us have had neighbors who complained about everything. Some people simply don't like the sound of children playing in a swimming pool. But, these complainers will be LESS happy with a law that abolishes weekly rentals of homes. Permanent neighbors don't leave at the end of a week or two! Second, some neighbors truly are inconsiderate and excessive with their noise levels. But, again, isn't it better that these troublesome neighbors also leave at the end of the week!

Does Karen really believe that a monthly guest would make less noise then a weekly guest? Or is it simply that she wants a "specific" noisy guest not to be staying in the home next to hers? What the neighbor of a weekly vacation rental property might be thinking is that if there were no weekly rental next door, the home would probably be sitting empty and therefore there would be no noise. After all, how many people take monthly vacations? Who can get off from work for a month or take their children away for a month? I have never taken one, nor do I know anyone that has.

Further, would you rather be stuck with a noisy neighbor for a week, or a month? I guess Karen has never had to deal with a noisy neighbor who has purchased the home next door to live in "Forever". If a noisy neighbor is an issue, do we not have laws to ensure that noise in any home does not become an intrusion to its neighbors? Of course we do! This is the specific purpose of laws against "disturbing the peace".

I wonder if we should address the traffic problems we experience on Marco Island in the same way. I mean, after all, if I hit traffic due to tourism, should we not address the traffic congestion by outlawing all rentals on Marco Island? How about all tourism on the island? That way there is never any traffic.

A reasonable person might suggest that such an argument would be ridiculous. What do you think?

Another key party that would have an interest in seeing weekly vacation rentals homes go away would be the hotels. Hotels would be looking to pickup rentals that would otherwise be staying in a home. The hotels would have a lot to gain not only the nightly rental business, but also in the food service area. After all their restaurants would have a largely captive audiences in guests that do not have kitchens in their rooms and do not want to travel out for food.

Who will be hurt if weekly vacation rentals were stopped? Everyone actually - Even the people pushing for their demise.

Neighbors of weekly vacation rental homes: The neighbor's of weekly vacation rental homes would see the rental homes next to them become run down. Why? Well, if a rental property owner has less money in rental income, they will probably spend less money keeping the home nice. They will cut back in every way possible to avoid losing their home. Perhaps it will be lawn maintenance that gets pushed off to every two weeks, perhaps it will be a new roof, or new paint job that gets delayed or skipped entirely.

Yes, it is easy and perhaps even natural for a retired person that bought a home 15 years ago, to think back fondly on times gone by when the island was quieter and less visited. They may even strive to move back to that time. After all, these people my not use many of the local amenities that have been created as a result of the tourism--amenities that will be taken away if weekly vacation rentals are curtailed. Perhaps these residents do not care if the schools are of good quality, or if you can find a service person on the island when you need one.

All Property Owners: Many weekly vacation rental home owners will be forced to list their homes for sale to cut their losses. After all the real estate market is already soft and these people will be desperate to avoid long term losses with no short term relief in the form of rental income.

As people sell at a loss, the value of property on Marco Island will plummet even further. Some owners that cannot afford to keep their home and cannot sell them at a loss will go into foreclosure. There is nothing worse for a local real estate market then foreclosures. When the values drop so will the exclusivity of having a Marco Island address.

Homes previously owned by people that had the budget to maintain and improve them may now be owned by people that are not in the same financial position, which could cause the overall "Luster" of Marco Island to fade. Was it not the very promises of a good investment on Marco that fueled the increase in property values that we have seen since 2000? Even in today's market the lot I purchased for 68K is worth 468K.

I believe this increase is largely due to the ability of people to buy local homes and make them weekly vacation homes while they wait to retire. It was this promise of increased value and an affluent place to live that drove the 3000+ feet "Mega" homes we see being developed all over the island today. And no reasonable person can deny that those homes have brought up all of our property values.

Local Business Owners: Local business will see a huge decline in revenue as weekly renters turn to other places for their vacations. After all, you cannot force someone to take a monthly vacation, they will simply choose another place if they do not want to stay in a hotel. This will have ripple effects through the tourism businesses and eventually the entire local economy. It will find its way into local Retail, Real Estate, Banking, Construction, and Service industries. Less work on the island will drive companies starved for business to scale back or close up.

Less local competition for our business will drive prices of goods up and quality levels down. Places we have known for years and watched grow will disappear literally overnight. Even if later the decision to outlaw the weekly rentals were to be reversed, much of the damage will have already been done as tourists put down roots in other areas. This would serve as a fatal double punch when combined with the fact that Marco Island and Florida in general, are still in recovery from Katrina and Wilma and tourism has not rebounded to pre-hurricane levels.

Government Agencies: Marco Island has built itself into a city on tourism dollars. As property values decrease, so do the associated tax dollars used for city services like Police and Fire and the maintenance/improvement projects which are now commonplace on the island. Some of these projects will invariably be delayed or canceled. County and State agencies that collect tourism tax will suffer.

Collier county currently collects 4% and the state 6% on every short term rental. If people stop coming to Marco Island, or to Florida, the county and state governments lose this revenue. If the revenue is not available then the government agencies will either have to cut programs or turn to some place else to support their need for tax dollars. A Florida income tax, at the extreme, could even become a possibility.

So why then is this topic even on the table for discussion?

This is perhaps the toughest question to answer. How can something so universally bad for Marco Island, its population, and our tourists be on the table for discussion? Well, we live in a free society. If one person as an objection, they are free to raise it. If their voice is loud enough, like the little chicken who cackles "The sky is falling", it may be heard over the voices of the quieter masses who are busy enjoying the sunshine. This is such a common phenomenon that these people are called the "Vocal Minority".

Perhaps that is what is happening here. A few people with loud voices, and a personal interest, are making their voices heard over all the quiet people that are happy with the current rental regulations. This "Vocal Minority" could literally change our entire island if we do not make our voices heard also. They may actually be attempting to do so without the slightest understanding of the "Big Picture" impact to themselves and the rest of us. Sound unfair? Frequently people with an Agenda, and time to spend on it, achieve results that are not in the interest of the general public. I have lived on Marco Island for seven years and have seen a lot of very positive growth on Marco Island during that time.

As any Marco Island home owner, I would like to see the island continue to grow and improve. I understand that weekly vacation rental homes, while a wonderful thing in general, can have an occasional and isolated negative result. But, it would be an act of extreme ignorance to pull a tooth because it has a cavity. A reasonable person fixes the cavity.

So what can you do?

Write, Call or send carrier pigeons to the Marco Island City Council. They can be reached at

Their phone number is: 239.389.5000.

50 Bald Eagle Dr.
Marco Island, FL 34145

City Council members are:

Mike Minozzi, Terri DiSciullo, Ted Forcht, Chuck Kiester, Robert Popoff, William Trotter, E. Glenn Tucker.

Reference Article in Naples New is:

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