The Florida League of Cities recognizes Madeira Beach Commissioner Elaine Poe, right, receives the Florida League of Cities Home Rule Hero Award from Kathy Till, advocacy programs coordinator for the League.
MADEIRA BEACH – Residents packed city hall to cheer Commissioner Elaine Poe as she received the Home Rule Hero Award, the highest honor given by the Tallahassee-based Florida League of Cities.
Poe received the award for her work in combating illegal short-term rentals, a growing problem locally and statewide. Florida League of Cities representative Kathy Till presented the award to Poe at the Aug. 12 City Commission meeting.
Till called Poe “an incredible advocate.” She told of a recent legislative session in Tallahassee attended by Till and Poe, where a bill addressing short-term rentals was struggling to get out of committee. Till said Poe’s determination and passion turned an expected committee defeat for the bill into a lopsided 10-3 victory.
“When we walked into that room, we were going to lose the vote. Then the bill would be dead,” Till said. Poe spoke quite passionately on the issue and its seriousness to Madeira Beach.
Later that evening, Poe received a phone call from Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, who had planned to vote against the short-term rental bill. Till recalled, “He said it was because of Commissioner Poe’s passion and testimony that he changed his vote.”
“That’s huge,” said Till. “That just never happens in Tallahassee.”
Though the bill was later voted into law, Poe indicated in a later comment that she still is not satisfied with it. In an email, Poe said the legislation, while helpful, “still does not give most of the communities back the rights that were lost.” Nor does it “help us bring those that are renting illegally in our community to justice.” By passing the bill (SB356) “we keep it alive and have the chance to go back and work on it more.”
That, Poe said, “will be my next No. 1 priority.”
The Home Rule Hero Award was presented to Poe “for being a champion in the defense and protection of municipal home rule. You are an inspiration to the League and a Home Rule Hero for municipalities everywhere,” Till said.
Money for crosswalk beautification OK’d
The city will receive a $25,000 grant for “rehabilitation of existing landscaping within state rights-of-way.” The money will be used to beautify the crosswalk islands on Gulf Boulevard with new landscaping, grass and palm trees, Mayor Travis Palladeno said.
Bar receives license upgrade
Expansion of an alcoholic beverage license to add liquor to existing beer and wine sales, was approved for Kelly’s Mad Bar at 13437 Gulf Blvd. A resident who owns a condo nearby opposed the license upgrade, citing ongoing problems at the bar.
Palladeno said he favored granting the liquor license. He said the new owners of the former Terry’s Tavern had “pumped a lot of money into improvements.”
“They have made it into a neighborhood tavern,” Palladeno said.
City staff also recommended approval of the upgraded alcohol license, said City Manager Shane Crawford. “From what it was, this new owner has made dramatic improvements, proving he is responsible enough to handle this type of license,” Crawford said.
But resident Bianca Plazza said she believes adding liquor to the license will just add problems. Plazza said she owns a condo nearby “in a family oriented place where people come and enjoy a week at the beach.” This is not good for them, or for the whole neighborhood, she said.
“A lot of the condo owners are against this,” Plazza said. “We don’t see any of the improvements, at least from the outside.”
While Palladeno said he had heard no complaints from law enforcement about the bar, Plazza said she had documentation that officers “have been out there 10 times for people trespassing and drunk.” Also, she said, “We hear music late at night.”
Palladeno told Plazza she should speak with the owner about her concerns. He described the owner as a nice, reasonable person.
The commission voted unanimously for the liquor license expansion. Commissioner Terry Lister was absent from the meeting.