The Pasco County Commission approved a request to allow short-term rentals in a waterfront home in West Pasco, but not before hearing complaints from nearby neighbors, and discussing bigger-picture issues affiliated with such rentals.
Board members approved the request for a short-term rental from Nikki and Michael Rutman to allow short-term rentals at 14429 Birch St., in Hudson.
Along with approving the request, the board attached a list of conditions that the owners must meet, or risk having their conditional use permit revoked.
Several neighbors urged the county board to reject the request, arguing that the short-term rental operation changes the character of their single-family neighborhood.
They complained about people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, slamming car doors, beeping horns, barking dogs, parties and other negative impacts.
During their deliberations, the board also discussed the need to find a way to deal with the broader issue of short-term rentals, also called vacation rentals, that are operating around Pasco County.
This particular request before the board arose because the property owner had been cited for a potential county ordinance violation, but board members agreed that this is not an isolated case.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey noted: “These issues are going to come up because the reality is, we have thousands and thousands of these in the county. I don’t see any way that our citizens can afford to pay code enforcement to go and shut each one of them down.
“In my mind, the answer is to have regulations,” Starkey said.
She said she uses short-term rentals when she travels.
“When families come (to Pasco) for a sporting event, sometimes they’re more comfortable staying in a house than a hotel. Sometimes, it’s cheaper, you get to cook your meals,” she said.
She added that she knows of at least two, maybe three, short-term rental operations near her home.
On one hand, Starkey said, “I sure wouldn’t want a houseful of partiers coming in every week.”
But on the other: “You can’t treat one differently than the other. If they’re not allowed to have theirs, you’re going to have shut all of these down, too.
“In my mind, we need to regulate and license these,” she said.
Pasco County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder told the board that it is prohibited by state law from changing its ordinance relating to short-term rentals, but, he said, the county can impose reasonable conditions.
With that in mind, board members expanded the list of conditions required for approval in the case under review.
They decided to require: that cameras be installed to record outdoor activities; that the property be well-maintained and trash receptacles properly stored; and, that water safety information be provided for any equipment the renters are allowed to use.
The board also adopted a three-strike rule — which would revoke the permit if three warranted complaints are recorded by code enforcement or the sheriff’s office.
Any revoked permit would come back to the board for review.
Starkey spoke in favor of the expanded conditions.
“I think we just made a good blueprint (for future requests),” she said.
Published March 29, 2023