Florida Legislature May Act to Allow Local Rental Restrictions

There has been a lot of local furor over rude renters disturbing the peace, leaving trash and otherwise making it tough for local, full-timers to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere we love on AMI. And now, the Legislators who represent the area are moving to return local rule after restricting that back in 2011.

Here’s a summary:

1)    Florida Legislature passed a bill limiting local rights in setting time limits for residential house rentals. They said that no more restrictive rules could be made than those at the time the bill passed. City of Anna Maria had NO limits. Thus, one could theoretically rent by the hour. Holmes Beach had earlier passed a resolution limiting weekly rentals to an area containing duplex or heavier use zoning. People who live next to large, ‘party’ houses, are tired of a new party each week. Some renters are not respectful of the quiet we all enjoy here on AMI. Thus, a ground roots agitation to limit short-term rentals – evidently from a variety of cities, not just those on AMI – which would also limit individual property owners rights to do with their property what they will. So… if the Legislature overturns their prior work, local forces could limit rentals, which would be a serious economic consequence for property owners here on AMI.

2)    Is it likely that one month minimum could pass all three cities on AMI? Probably not. And even if it does, I envision many, many lawsuits from property owners which will really bollix up the works.

3)    City of Anna Maria tried to define three-bedroom houses as motels. At one point, their city council voted to say that was so, and that all rentals of three-bedroom houses in the city were – effective immediately – no longer available for short-term rent, as no motels other than those pre-existing could be allowed in that city. The idiots on the council recanted a couple of days later and withdrew that decision. But it’s just an example of how knee-jerk reactions to citizens complaining about noise and trash can have serious side effects.

What will happen? I don’t really know. But time will tell, of course. I believe that even the wackiest city council people can see that if weekly rentals are banned, that most businesses will suffer extreme consequences, and that owners of such properties will face economic hardship from loss of income, and that property values will drop all over the place. Not likely in the long run. Short term? Maybe in Anna Maria. Say, 50/50. Then the lawsuits start. In Holmes Beach, maybe a 25% chance they would try to go all monthly. More likely, they will keep status quo.

Here is an alert that Broker Larry Chatt of Island Real Estate sent out yesterday evening to property owners who have our company as their rental agents.

State of Florida Property Rights Threatened- Please read and act ASAP – From Larry Chatt

Island Real Estate – Anna Maria Island property owners:

Firstly, I apologize for the lengthy email.  Over the past 12 months I could have sent similar emails about 5 times however the experts that understand how Florida Legislation works urged us all to wait to unleash our voices at the right time.  Now is the right time, so please act now.  We have until end of day Monday to act.  Time is urgent.

Since 2011 we have enjoyed the hard work of many to pass a bill known as House Bill 883.  This bill says that local municipalities cannot establish rules that restrict only vacation rentals.  In my humble opinion, house bill 883 is the only thing that has stopped Holmes Beach and Anna Maria City from passing one month rental minimums and taking away our rights to rent our Anna Maria Island property.  I know how irrational this must sound but less than one year ago the city of Anna Maria told us that we could not and should not be renting three bedroom homes or larger, effective immediately.  Call all your guests and tell them to “turn around, you cannot stay.”  Of course this long story became short and three nights after the insanity started the city commissioners voted again and reversed their earlier decision with the help of their legal counsel.  History has proven this is possible.

I am sorry to report that we are now in jeopardy of losing House Bill 883.  Our higher-level state protection is on the cusp of being removed permanently.   I am very close to this situation and I am gravely concerned our property rights are about to take a big step closer to losing this battle.  In the past few weeks the repeal of House Bill 883 unanimously passed through the senate and it has been earmarked by a very powerful senator to get this through the House and fast.  What normally takes a month has been consolidated to be voted on in days this upcoming Tuesday.  Our lobbyist as well as the experts agree, if the House committee passes this bill to go into the legislative session for 2014, it is very likely we have lost the battle and we will lose our higher state protection.  Our Anna Maria Island cities will now have the ability to take away our rights to rent weekly and I believe will require all rentals to be one month in duration.

The economic impact would be devastating to the island.  Vacation rentals would earn 25% of current income, restaurants and shops would no longer have customers and our island with lots of choices for visitors would resemble North Longboat Key.  Many of you will answer my plea that the “City cannot do that.”  If they do, “I will sue.”  You bet we will take legal action but it will be costly and during the legal battle we can all kiss our property values good-bye.  No educated property investor would ever purchase on Anna Maria Island during the legal battle and the repercussions of the legal worries will have an impact for years after a successful court decision.  Please review the form letter below and email or call the names found below and let your voice be heard.  It is best to include your FLORIDA address in  your signature line so the members of the House committee have the perception you are a Florida voter.  Please watch for future updates and feel free to email or call for more information on how you can help.

And another plea for help:

Dear Florida Property Owners 

Right now in Tallahassee, a very harmful bill is speeding through the legislature that will severely restrict your property rights and strip away the freedom to manage your vacation rental business.

To protect our rights and fight for our jobs WE MUST MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD RIGHT NOW. There are two easy ways to do this: (1) Email the Legislature, (2) Call the committee members who are considering the bill. WE NEED YOU TO DO BOTH BEFORE NEXT MONDAY (FEB 3), and we’re making it easy for you.

At the bottom is a list of legislators in the Florida House of Representatives who we need you to contact. There are email addresses and phone numbers for each.


Send an INDIVIDUAL email to EACH of the Representatives on the list (for your convenience, a suggested format is below. If you are pressed for time, you can simply cut and paste – but also feel free to make the words your own):

Dear Representative  __________________:

I’m writing today to urge you to oppose HB 307 because the bill will destroy my property rights and those of other vacation property owners like me. We are a vital part the Florida’s tourism economy. This bill is unnecessary because current law already balances the rights of all property owners. HB 307 would result in severe restrictions that would “zone out” some small businesses like mine. With economic recovery just starting, it is the wrong time to impose laws and regulations that will crush our business. Please stand up and protect private property rights in Florida by opposing this harmful bill. YOU MUST VOTE “NO” ON HB 307 in the Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee meeting taking place on Tuesday, February 4.


[Your name here]


The phone numbers that are listed for each member are their legislative offices. You will likely get a staff person or voicemail. Please be clear, concise and respectful. Feel free to share the passion you have for your rights and your business, but try not be angry.

Here’s a suggested script for the call:

Hi, I’m calling to let Representative ________ know that I’m urging a “NO” vote on HB 307 in the Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, February 4. Men and women like me in the vacation rental business are part of the state’s important tourism economy. This bill will destroy our property rights and allow over-regulation that will hurt our business or even put us out of business. During the last few years of tough economic times, I worked very hard and contributed to Florida’s economy, and I need Representative ________’s support to oppose this very bad bill.


Here are the key Florida House Members to target, but also target whomever your local House and Senate Representatives are!

Representative:           District Phone:                        Capitol Phone:                                                Email:

Debbie Mayfield         (772) 778-5077                       (850) 717-5054                       debbie.mayfield@myfloridahouse.gov
Greg Steube                (941) 341-3117                       (850) 717-5073                       greg.steube@myfloridahouse.gov
Darryl Rouson             (727) 906-3200                       (850) 717-5070                       darryl.rouson@myfloridahouse.gov
Ben Albritton              (863) 534-0073                       (850) 717-5056                       ben.albritton@myfloridahouse.gov
Karen Castor Dentel   (407) 659-4818                       (850) 717-5030                       Karen.CastorDentel@myfloridahouse.gov
Travis Cummings        (904) 278-5761                       (850) 717-5018                       Travis.Cummings@myfloridahouse.gov
Dwight  Dudley          (727) 552-2747                       (850) 717-5068                       Dwight.Dudley@myfloridahouse.gov
Dane Eagle                  (239) 772-1291                       (850) 717-5077                       Dane.Eagle@myfloridahouse.gov
Joe Gibbon                  (954) 893-5006                       (850) 717-5100                       joe.gibbons@myfloridahouse.gov
Mike La Rosa              (407) 891-2555                       (850) 717-5042                       Mike.LaRosa@myfloridahouse.gov
Kenneth Roberson      (941) 613-0914                       (850) 717-5075                       ken.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov
Cynthia Stafford         (305) 953-3086                       (850) 717-5109                       cynthia.stafford@myfloridahouse.gov
Carlos Trujillo             (305) 470-5070                       (850) 717-5105                       carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov
Steve Crisafulli           (321) 449-5111                       (850) 717-5051                       steve.crisafulli@myfloridahouse.gov
Will Weatherford        (813) 558-5115                       (850) 717-5038                       will.weatherford@myfloridahouse.gov
Robert Schenck           (352) 688-5005                       (850) 717-5035                       robert.schenck@myfloridahouse.gov
Travis Hutson              (386) 446-7644                       (850) 717-5024                       Travis.Hutson@myfloridahouse.gov


You can find the information for your local representatives at the website  www.leg.state.fl.us

Larry Chatt

Broker-Owner of Island Real Estate

Island Real Estate

Direct Line: (941) 345-1288                            

Office: 941-778-6066

Fax: 941-778-6306

6101 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217

419 Pine Ave, Anna Maria City, FL 34216







Senate to Discuss Flood Insurance

This in from Florida Realtors: The Senate has decided to discuss changes to Biggert Waters 2012, the bill that is supposed to return the National Flood Insurance Program to ‘actuarially sound’ rates.

What we don’t know is whether or not that will wreck Florida’s fragile economic recovery.

Here’s the story: http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?p=3&id=302814


Search AMI Real Estate for Sale

Easy as pie!

Just know that 34216 is the zip code for the City of Anna Maria; 34217 is the zip for Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach.

Sort by price, number of bedrooms and other features, and do it here:


Or, call or email me with the types of properties you’re interested in, and I will do the searching for you. Even set up a robot to search while you’re sleeping and automatically deliver results to your email.

Just let me know your questions. And I’ll get you answers!


Beer Can Island Gets a Five-Year Reprieve

A large concrete groin planned for the northern tip of Longboat Key across from the southern bit of Anna Maria Island will not be put in place for at least five years, according to a story in the Bradenton Times, an online newspaper founded in Manatee County.

The popular area, which will remain ‘natural,’ is known as Beer Can Island, although the proper name is Greer Island. It has long been a spot for boaters to pull up and enjoy themselves while parked on white sands adjacent to the strong currents of Longboat Pass.

Groins had been planned in an effort to halt severe erosion to the beachfront area and potential damage to a couple of condos built out onto the beach of northern Longboat Key. Former Manatee County Commissioner, Joe McClash, and others including the Sierra Club, have deemed it preferable not to have the concrete barrier in place .

Other locations further south on Longboat Key will get permeable groins according to the Times’ account of the compromise reached today. No concrete groin will be placed at the northern tip for at least five years.

Here’s the story: http://www.thebradentontimes.com/news/2014/01/22/community/settlement_saves_beer_can_island/?utm_source=Readers&utm_campaign=ecc2736a80-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1d2bd00576-ecc2736a80-25445585


Property sales on AMI

I’ve just completed an analysis comparing AMI property sales for 2013 compared to 2012. Categories are Homes, which includes half duplexes, townhouses and villas, Condos, including condo-tels, Multi-family (mostly duplexes) and vacant land.

Data collected includes the median selling price, median dollars per square foot and the percentage of the asking price represented by the selling price. All information comes from the Mid-Florida Multiple Listing Service. Some sales were not recorded as a part of the MLS, and they are not considered in this analysis.

 First, let’s look at sales for 2012. 

ANNUAL SALES  1/1/2012 thru 12/31/2012 
  # Sold  $ Sold   $ psf  % Asking
Homes 253  $      485,000  $       288 94%
Condos 126  $      290,000  $       254 93%
Multi 27  $      377,000  $       198 94%
Land 33  $      335,000  $         51 91%
Total 439      

In terms of numbers of sales, it was a very strong year. With 439 total sales, it showed strong demand for AMI properties, especially homes and condos. Buyers got a lot per square foot for duplexes, but then were faced with renovation costs. Most turned those properties into cute little rentals, or scraped the land and built larger homes. Land prices were nearly the same as those for multifamily properties. At least one didn’t need to incur the cost of scraping the lot.

 Now, let’s see what happened in 2013. 

ANNUAL SALES  1/1/2013 thru 12/31/2013 
  # Sold  $ Sold   $ psf  % Asking
Homes 248  $      523,000  $       329 94%
Condos 120  $      268,000  $       302 95%
Multi 27  $      438,000  $       234 95%
Land 25  $      480,000  $         62 90%
Total 420      

Note that 2013 was another strong year, even though total sales didn’t quite get to the same level as 2012. Similar forces were at work, with many buyers seeking properties they could rent and enjoy income while they enjoyed ownership. In some cases, buyers were able to achieve positive cash flow from purchases the last couple of years, and – compared even to a robust stock market – that was appealing.

How does that compare to the prior year?

    Year to Year Change    
  # Sold  $ Sold   $ psf   
Homes -2% 7% 12%  
Condos -5% -8% 16%  
Multi 0% 14% 15%  
Land -32% 30% 18%  
Total -5%      

Just about every category is up, except the number of properties sold in each category, and the median selling price of condos. Higher condo fees can take some of the blame for that, as can the fact that many condos restrict short-term rentals and are thus not as desirable. Median dollars sold are up for homes, multifamily and land, and the dollars per square foot for all categories are also up.

Don’t hesitate to call or email.


Birding on AMI

tricolor heron

If you love nature, and you like birds, you will love it on Anna Maria Island.

I’m an avid birder myself, and regularly participate in Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts, here on the island, in Bradenton and Manatee County, and in Sarasota County. I’ve also birded recently in Maine, California, Mexico, Costa Rica, and — in fact — pretty much wherever I go.

The whole island is a bird sanctuary, and that’s a ‘good thing.’ In winter, we see lots of birds that have headed south for the season (not just the regular ‘snowbirds’). Springtime sees nesting birds on the northern part of our beach, with Audubon volunteers ribboning off the nesting areas (and hoping that the birds will read the signs telling them where to nest.)  🙂

But what we have is a LOT of birds. For folks who live in many other parts of the world, we have a huge number of birds, many of them large birds, and they’re just about everywhere.

On the beaches are everything from laughing, herring and ring-billed gulls to royal, elegant, Forsters, Caspian and (nesting) least terns to black skimmers, (nesting) snowy plovers, western sandpipers, willets and other shorebirds.

Just a few feet inland, we get waders like great blue herons, black and yellow crowned night herons, green herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, white ibis and sometimes glossy ibis.

In the bay, look for double crested cormorants, anhingas, maybe a kingfisher or two, and lots more brown pelicans, white pelicans in winter and many terns. Sometimes we can see a frigate bird over the bay, and once in a long while, a gannet.

At the southern end of AMI, find Leffis Key, where gnatcatchers, ruby crowned kinglets, and other small birds live. Boardwalks lead through the mangroves to give views of Anna Maria Sound and the Cortez “kitchen,” where there may be a white pelican or two in cooler months. And in the Australian pines, found in all over the island, there are certainly plenty of yellow-rumped and palm warblers, with maybe a black-and-white, pine or prairie warb. There are lots of red-bellied woodpeckers, some downies, and down just south in the village of Longboat Key is a pair of pileated woodpeckers.

Look up and you’ll see that the osprey has made a stunning comeback, with one enjoying a fishy meal on just about every tall tree or lamp-post. Most of the vultures you’ll see are turkey buzzards. Sometimes we get a black vulture on the island, but rarely. And there’s a Cooper’s hawk that lives in our neighborhood. Last week, a broad-winged hawk swooped through my back yard! We can sometimes see red-shouldered or red-tailed hawks, although they keep mostly to the mainland.

I may be able to steer you to a roost for a great horned owl, and we’ve had eastern screech owls trilling to us from the palms near our bedroom.

Suffice it to say that you will be happy with birding here on AMI.

I hope you’ll contact me while you’re here, and we can go birding together!


Welcome to John van Zandt, Anna Maria Island

Here is my blog. It’s also my website. It’s all about Anna Maria Island. How I work it. How I see it. How I hear, feel and taste it. And I hope you will get a taste of it, too, because this is how I live it.

I will be posting from time to time, about real estate, other business, family, friends and activities on the island. Maybe also some information about nearby attractions and points of interest.

Most of all, I hope it’s interactive. There’s too much “I” above. There should be a lot more “You.” So tell me how this works for you.

John van Zandt