Another Top Pick for AMI

This time, it’s the Wall Street Journal, thinking there are four ‘authentic’ Old Florida destinations, all on the Gulf Coast.

The writer never got beyond the city of Anna Maria, which is a bit of a shame. But here’s the take, along with Appalachicola, Boca Grande and Sanibel.

Still, I like Anna Maria Island best.


AMI Makes Number Three

If local traffic is any reflection, maybe it’s just as well that Marco Island takes the first spot in Trip Advisor’s ranking of the top islands in the United States. When the sun is shining, it’s tough to get on in the morning and to get off in the afternoon.

But we’ll take the number three ranking, and joyfully! For those of us who live here on Anna Maria Island, it’s clearly number one. Most of the year, it’s quiet and calm, with a seven-mile stretch of mostly unpopulated white sand. February, March and April can get kinda crowded, though.

It’s not the kind of crowded that islands, like Marco, have from high-rises all along the beach. Even when AMI is crowded on the main drag, it’s not crowded on the beach. Heck, there are only two buildings taller than two-stories-over-parking on the entire shoreline. Plenty of room for vacationers AND day-trippers from the mainland.

Anyway, here’s a link to the story.

Flood Insurance Problems? Lift Your Home!

I couldn’t believe this article in yesterday’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Real Estate Editor Harold Bubil. Well, actually, I could.

Seems that some folks are just going ahead and lifting their homes out of the flood plain. In some cases, it may cost less than the first year’s increased flood insurance.

See what Harold has to say:

US House Moves Forward with Flood Bill

According to the Florida Association of Realtors, the House has decided to take up the matter of ‘fixing’ the drastic rate hikes seen by people who live in flood-prone areas, including Anna Maria Island.

They will not approve the Senate bill, according to the news report, but will craft their own legislation, which will likely then need to go into a conference committee before it is presented to President Obama for his signature.

But something is happening, and that’s GOOD!

Here’s the story:

Egmont Key Near AMI

Egmont lighthouseEgmont Key is found at the mouth of Tampa Bay.  The  lighthouse is still working, though no longer manned by the Coast Guard.

On the other hand, there are several trails through the Key, where there were several fortifications built for the Spanish American War. Once it was discovered that ‘modern’ artillery could blow up the brick forts, though, the place was no longer useful for that purpose.

So after more than 100 years, the island has suffered some erosion, and certainly some of the forts have toppled into the sea. But there are still lots of interesting sights there, including walkways, original brick streets. and the ubiquitous gophers.

Not the kind of gophers you have up north, but gopher tortoises. These good-sized critters have holes in the sand and are threatened in much of their range. But not so much on Egmont Key.

Boat at EgmontOne reason is because the only way to get there is by boat. Here we see our dainty craft on a very gentle day with hardly any swell.

And there are no pets allowed on the island. In part because of the gophers, but also because of the huge bird roost and nesting area on the south end. Definitely don’t want any happy mutts chasing the nesting terns, skimmers or plovers.

But it’s a trip worth taking. Here’s a link to the state website:

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             
Greg Steube                (941) 341-3117                       (850) 717-5073             
Darryl Rouson             (727) 906-3200                       (850) 717-5070             
Ben Albritton              (863) 534-0073                       (850) 717-5056             
Karen Castor Dentel   (407) 659-4818                       (850) 717-5030             
Travis Cummings        (904) 278-5761                       (850) 717-5018             
Dwight  Dudley          (727) 552-2747                       (850) 717-5068             
Dane Eagle                  (239) 772-1291                       (850) 717-5077             
Joe Gibbon                  (954) 893-5006                       (850) 717-5100             
Mike La Rosa              (407) 891-2555                       (850) 717-5042             
Kenneth Roberson      (941) 613-0914                       (850) 717-5075             
Cynthia Stafford         (305) 953-3086                       (850) 717-5109             
Carlos Trujillo             (305) 470-5070                       (850) 717-5105             
Steve Crisafulli           (321) 449-5111                       (850) 717-5051             
Will Weatherford        (813) 558-5115                       (850) 717-5038             
Robert Schenck           (352) 688-5005                       (850) 717-5035             
Travis Hutson              (386) 446-7644                       (850) 717-5024             


You can find the information for your local representatives at the website

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:


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: