Beware of Sneaky Zoning Changes
Did you move to Brevard County to enjoy a safe and quiet lifestyle? Do you enjoy our old fashioned friendly neighborhoods where everyone looks out for each other? This life is in danger of disappearing.
The Brevard County Commissioners are currently seeking zoning changes which would allow Airbnb and short-term rentals in areas of the county where they are currently prohibited. This means vacation houses rented by the night or week to any amount of guests partying into the night. Would you feel comfortable with this going on in the house next door to you?
The sneaky way in which the county is seeking to do this is alarming and could have drastic implications for zoning throughout the county.
There is a current zoning category called “Resort Dwellings” that allows Airbnb-type rentals. Any significant changes to this classification will remove the grandfathered protections, which limit where Resort Dwellings can be located. In order to retain the grandfathered protections, the county plans to simply create a new zoning called “Vacation Rentals”. They want to add this to ALL areas of unincorporated Brevard County – including PUDs and quiet residential family neighborhoods.
A Resort Dwelling is defined as a property rented out for less than 90 days. A Vacation Rental is a property rented out for less than 30 days. Since 30 days is less than 90 days, a Vacation Rental is actually a Resort Dwelling.
Currently, Resort Dwellings are allowed on properties zoned residential with a Conditional Use Permit. One of the “conditions” is Resort Dwellings cannot be adjacent to a residential dwelling. So Resort Dwellings are essentially not allowed in many unincorporated areas of Brevard Couty. However, Vacation Rentals would be allowed everywhere with no restrictions.
Are you confused yet? It gets worse! Locations such as the Unincorporated South Beaches do not allow Resort Dwellings. The new change would allow Vacation Rentals.
Hang on, isn’t a Vacation Rental also a Resort Dwelling? Yes it is! So a short-term rental would simultaneously be allowed as a Vacation Rental but not allowed by the Resort Dwelling use.
The existing Resort Dwelling classification contains restrictions on the use of the dwellings. These include occupancy, parking, noise restrictions, etc. The new use for Vacation Rentals has none of these restrictions. There is nothing preventing 30 people from staying in a 3 bedroom dwelling. Unlike hotels with dedicated onsite staff, dwellings rented on sites such as Airbnb are mostly occupied by transient renters without onsite supervision. This has given rise to horror stories of out of control renters traumatizing entire neighborhoods.
Ironically, current locations currently zoned to allow a Resort Dwelling will continue to use that zoning use. Areas zoned Residential would use the Vacation Rental use classification – with its lack of restrictions.
The county Code of Ordinance also classifies a Resort Dwelling as a Commercial use. The proposed Vacation Rentals are for residential use.
Using “sneaky” logic, the County Commissioners are trying to create a new residential use classification that mirrors an existing commercial use. This will open up the possibility of allowing what the County currently defines as commercial activities in newly-rezoned residential areas.
For example, a restaurant is a commercial activity not allowed in an area zoned residential. But using the same “sneaky” logic, a new use called “Group Dining Facility” could be created – identical to a restaurant – but added as a permitted use to residential zoning! Now a restaurant would be allowed in a residential area! Allowing this type of sneaky zoning sets a dangerous precedent that can be used to insert all sorts of commercial activities into residentially zoned areas.
So what’s the big deal?
If these changes are made there is no going back. We cannot do a trial run of daily rentals and Airbnbs. Once Pandora’s box is opened it cannot be closed. If the County Commissioners succeed in adding this new Vacation Rental use classification, the State legislature prohibits Brevard County from EVER removing it.
Do you want to lose your quiet safe, neighborhood to commercial activity? Do you want nightly tourists partying until all hours of the night while you are trying to sleep? Do you want 10 cars parked on the lawn next door to you, with cars spilling over onto both sides of your narrow street?
This is the future of Unincorporated Brevard if the County Commissioners are successful in changing this zoning.