More than 100 people spent Saturday night voicing their opinion about House Bill 425.
The Hammock Community Center on Mala Compra Road was filled to standing-room-only capacity as state Rep. Paul Renner held a town hall meeting to discuss two hot topics for Flagler County residents: dune restoration, and regulations regarding short-term vacation rentals.
The dune discussion lasted 15 minutes, with the remaining hour and 45 minutes dedicated to the rental issue.
Matching House and Senate bills have been proposed that, if passed, would once again bar local governments from regulating vacation rentals; that was also the case from 2011 until 2014, when Flagler County lobbied to repeal the 2011 law that barred local regulation.
Residents demonstrated their knowledge when, in response to Renner’s admission that he didn't know the companion Senate bill number, they responded in unison: "188."
Residents and county officials have traveled to Tallahassee to state their objections in person, often frustrated at the limited time they had to make their cases.
One argument in favor of maintaining local regulations over the industry was that enforcement would be more responsive at a local level.
One resident noted that a group from Sarasota spoke against the bill even though the bill sponsor is their own Sen. Greg Steube. The resident asked why elected officials were not voting the way their constituents wanted.
Renner has been vocal about voting against the bill and accepted a signed petition from a local homeowners association to take to the committee meeting on Tuesday, March 28.
Long time Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy spoke about the painful process the city went through to pass a short-term rental agreement in 2008.
“Senator Steube has misconceptions about Flagler Beach, and if he wants to make disparaging remarks about my wonderful little city, you can straighten him out,” Mealy said.
Renner indicated that the committee meeting on Tuesday, March 28, would be a battle, but one he was willing to fight.
“I will make my position known,” Renner said. “This is a deal that has been broken, and should not be broken.”