STOP GOVERNMENT OVERREACH NOW Block the Short Term Vacation Rental Ban - Dauphin Island

STOP GOVERNMENT OVERREACH NOW Block the Short Term Vacation Rental Ban - Dauphin Island

August 7, 2022
Signatures: 1,240Next Goal: 1,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Jennifer Ballard

The town of Dauphin Island is proposing a ban on short-term rentals (STRs) on most of the East End of the Island. We oppose this action because it is a government infringement on private property holder rights, would adversely impact property values on the entire island, inflict disastrous financial consequences to the town budget by starving it of property and lodging tax revenues, and restrict tourists (primarily families) from staying on the portion of the Island that's most affordable.

Read all about it:

I. Petition Recipients: 
Town of Dauphin Island Mayor - Hon. Jeff Collier
Town Council Member - Hon. Gene Fox
Town Council Member - Hon. Trey Alderman
Town Council Member - Hon. Earle Connell
Town Council Member - Hon. Rich Colberg
Town Council Member - Hon. Clinton Collier

Dauphin Island Planning Commission
Mayor: Jeff Collier
Council Rep: Earle Connell
Secretary: Wanda Sandagger
Position 1: Neil Sass                                      2019-2024
Position 2: James "Mac" McLemore              2014-2020
Position 3: Charlie Gray                                 2015-2021        
Position 4: Pat Edwards                                 2016-2022
Position 5: Carolyn Wood                             2017-2023
Position 6: Joey Simmons                             2018-2024

with Carbon Copy (CC) to:
Mobile County Revenue Commissioner - Kim Hastie
AL Department of Revenue Commissioner - Vernon Barnett
AL's 1st Congressional District Representative - Jerry Carl Jr.

II. Petitioners: The Dauphin Island, AL STR Association on behalf of 200+ property owners, tourists, second homeowners, local property owners and local business owners

III. Summary of Town of Dauphin Island Vacation Rental Ban

Scope of Application: Primarily homes on the East End
Implementation Date: September 2022

Summary: The Town of Dauphin Island is proposing a Short-Term Vacation Rental Overlay District (STVROD). All homes outside this overlay would be banned from hosting short-term rentals. No new vacation rentals would be permitted outside the overlay district, and existing short-term rentals in the district will only be permitted to operate for a 10-year sunset period. After the sunset period expires, short -term vacation rentals outside the overlay district would be banned. Additionally, the ability to short-term rent is not transferable under the sunset period.

The Town of Dauphin Island is also proposing safety inspections on short-term rentals. 

IV. Discussion and Rationale of Why Dauphin Island’s Proposed Government Overreach is Flawed

Why is the Town of Dauphin Island’s Zoning Ordinance Problematic? There are so many reasons! Here are the highlights.

1) The Town is stripping property rights without any compensation. 
The Fifth Amendment of The Constitution of the United States is crystal clear about citizens’ property rights. Its Takings Clause forbids governments from passing regulations that take property or uses of property without compensation. Here’s the excerpt: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

2) The Town is engaging in discrimination by restricting the rights of certain R-1 property owners while not restricting the rights of other R-1 property owners. Moreover, it is unclear as to the rationale of the boundaries proposed. For instance, there are certain limited areas on the East End where rentals would be permitted. Who makes these decisions and what incentives and/or rationale underlies it?

3) The Mobile County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the creation of Dauphin Island in 1953 to develop an area primarily for tourism for the residents of Mobile County and the State of Alabama. By restricting short-term vacation rentals, the Town is restricting visitors from Alabama and across the broader United States as well. This is problematic considering the State of Alabama and the U.S. Federal Government have collectively spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and subsidies to develop and maintain the road and bridge to the island.

4) Vacation rentals pay millions of dollars of wages to local workers including plumbers, electricians, cleaning and maintenance crews, landscapers and other businesses to service their properties. These businesses are tied directly to the volume of visitors who come up to the area. If short-term vacation rentals are restricted, they will lose a substantial amount of business. 

5) West End vacation rentals which are not subject to the proposed ban, tend to be larger and much more expensive than East End vacation rentals. By slashing the number of vacation rentals on the East End, the Island would be all but shutting out middle class families from an affordable vacation option. The short-term rental restriction will reduce consumer/tourist choice and preventing many from being afford to stay on the Island.

6) The local property market would recalibrate. The unrestricted properties on the West End would increase in value, while properties on the restricted East End would stagnate and decline in value. This distortion would have unintended consequences, including significant changes to tax assessments. This is not solely a second home owner issue but a local issue as well. Many locals own their own homes and businesses on their land/property. In many cases, a significant portion of their wealth is tied to their property value. Enacting this zoning proposal would not only impact their incomes, but their housing/property wealth. 

7) The town’s own economic development plan calls for diversifying the tax base by moving some businesses and rentals to the East End. The West End, home to a large portion of the island’s stock of STRs, is extremely vulnerable to storms. Shutting down STRs on the East End contradicts the town’s own development plan as pointed out in a 2022 fiscal impact analysis. STRs on the East End can protect the island’s tourism industry and financial health in the long term.

8) This Zoning Ordinance is a government regulatory scheme to grab power from property owners and potentially on behalf of special interests under the guise of "public safety" and "quality of life". The Town of Dauphin Island has existing methods and ordinances to deal with any short-term rental bad actors. The Town Council reviews and approves each short-term rental via the approval of a business license. The Town has a Police Department and Code Enforcer to handle noise, traffic and safety complaints. Any real or perceived problems can be handled under the existing framework. Finally, short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, Vacasa, VRBO, and local real estate management companies like ACP and Roberts Brothers encourage local municipalities to report “bad actors” to them via an online tool. If they hear of trouble with a property, they will remove it from their platform. We do not need to create new and unnecessary laws to punish property owners when existing methods and protocols exist.

9) Vacation Rental and Second Home Owners contribute significant revenue to the town by attracting tourists who spend millions of dollars on the island at local businesses, and via the payment of the majority of local property tax revenues. Additionally, lodging revenues from vacation rentals is one of the top revenue sources for the island. Twenty-five percent of the town of Dauphin Island’s annual budget comes from lodging taxes. A significant portion of those lodging taxes come from STRs on the East End of the Island. Jamming through a ban on short-term vacation rentals without actively seeking the input of affected property owners, business owners, and visitors to the island is counterproductive to the long-term interest of the island we all love. 

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Signatures: 1,240Next Goal: 1,500
Support now