DUNEDIN, Fla. (FOX 13) - A large portion of Florida’s economy has always been tourism, but the industry has evolved.
More visitors opt to stay in short-term rentals, instead of hotels, creating a conundrum for towns that rely on hospitality taxes to operate.
The city of Dunedin in Pinellas County, Florida is trying to decide whether to allow residents to rent out space through websites like Airbnb and VRBO.
Some say the coming-and-going created by a short-term rental is disruptive to neighborhoods. Others say the extra income means the difference in making ends meet.
Dunedin resident Penelope Haskell's daughter requires around-the-clock medical attention. To afford keeping her daughter at home, Haskell converted half of her house into a rental space, which she lists on Airbnb.
“It’s just a way to survive,” Haskell said. “It’s my primary source of income.”
She is now fearful the city will adopt a proposal that would make her short-term rental against the rules.
Haskell says her home would be in the no-zone.
“I’m devastated,” she said. “I can’t afford to stay here, I would lose my home and Tracy would have to go into a nursing home. I’m absolutely paralyzed with fear.”
Tuesday, city commissioners heard from people like Haskell, as well as the people who don’t want short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods.
“I’m dead-set against this,” one man told commissioners.
Cathy Greenwood says she is all for short-term rentals in certain areas, like near hotels, but not on her quiet street.
“It would change the character of our residential neighborhood,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood says she’s also worried about real estate investors who don't live there sweeping up properties to rent out.
“That’s why we had realtors, who don’t even live here, pushing it, because it’s good for them," Greenwood said.
Two strong arguments are now in the hands of commissioners. They plan to take the comments raised Tuesday into consideration as they draft a plan on how to zone short-term rentals.