REDINGTON BEACH – Redington Beach commissioners hope to persuade some local lawmakers to drop their opposition to a proposed state bill that has the potential to end short-term rentals in the community.
However, the commission rejected a suggestion to hire a lobbyist who would shepherd the bill through the Florida Legislature.
At a Feb. 15 meeting, commissioners continued to share their anxieties over the possible fate of a bill that would allow the city to redo the process of calling a referendum on a 2008 ordinance to ban short-term rentals. Six of 10 members of the Pinellas County legislative delegation expressed support for the bill at a Jan. 31 meeting.
Commissioners said they hope to meet with some of the four critics of the bill to convince them to change their stance.
Mayor Nick Simons said he had scheduled a meeting with one of the opponents, State Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, for Feb. 27.
Simons said State Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, who is co-sponsoring the bill with State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, told him she would continue talking to the members of the delegation who were against the bill.
Simons added that Peters suggested Redington Beach hire a lobbyist to promote the bill in Tallahassee. The mayor said the commission had little time to act because the legislature would begin its 60-day session on March 7 and the commission was not scheduled to meet again until March. 1. Legislative committees were already meeting, he added.
He noted the range of fees charged by lobbyists “were all over the map.”
Commissioner Tom Dorgan rejected hiring a lobbyist, saying any such action now would be “a day late and a dollar short.”
He asked if commissioners could also meet with State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, whom Dorgan said had been “most vocal” in opposing the bill.
The delegation “seemed to think we didn’t do due diligence because we were wishy washy about what we were doing with our ordinance because we weren’t enforcing it,” Dorgan said.
‘They were acting like we were being ineffectual and asking the state to bail us out and at the same time trying to say we wanted home rule and yet we don’t have the ability to enforce our own rules.”
Commissioner Mark Deighton proposed sending letters to every member of the committees assigned to consider the bill.
He also doubted whether Rouson could be effective in pushing the bill through the Republican-controlled Senate.
In other action, engineering firm CPWG demonstrated geographic information software that would overlay various data sets over aerial images of the city. Public works staff could use the software to collect and analyze data such as the location of utility, water and sewer lines, property ownership and storm water outfalls. The software could be customized to meet the city’s needs.
The GIS system would cost $14,000 for development and training and another $8,000 to collect outfall data.
Following the presentation, Simons said that while “I don’t think any of us have the ability to fully digest” everything in the proposed software package, he thought it could be a “tool for access we don’t normally have.”
Other commissioners also expressed interest in the system. Deighton said the proposal was an “excellent plan.” Dorgan said that because the information was a “living data set,” it would need to regularly updated.
Vice Mayor Fred Steiermann said he wasn’t convinced the GIS system was needed, saying that programming that was less extensive would provide enough information for such a small town.
“I’ve changed my opinion from it’s way too much money to maybe it’s just too much information,” he said.
A second GIS bidder, Geospatial Mapping Systems, is scheduled to present its proposal at the March 1 commission meeting.
Steve Tarte of CPWG noted his proposal was built on widely-used ESRI analytics software, while the other bidder’s software was proprietary.
Commissioners did approve a $1,600 contract with All-Phase Paving and Sealing of Largo to repair, seal and restripe the parking lot at Beach Park.
Town Clerk Missy Clarke said she had requested bids from four contractors, but only All-Phase responded.
Simons asked the commission to table action on a $12,820 bid from Ajax Paving Industries of Florida based in North Venice for road repairs along 184 feet of Fourth and Fifth streets and 161st Avenue damaged by recent flooding. The mayor said the bid did not appear to reflect a “piggyback” on similar roadwork being done by the contractor in North Redington Beach. If that was not the case, he said, additional bids would have to be sought.