The big news coming out of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Friday news conference was the reopening of gyms as part of a “full phase one” of reopening.
But he also mentioned allowing short-term rentals on a “case-by-case” basis. It’s a big issue for local governments as tourism season takes effect.
When asked by a reporter about the short-term rental ban, DeSantis said counties will be requested to provide a written safety plan to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to get the approval for short-term rentals.
“What we’re doing is telling counties if you want short-term rentals, you’re requested to be authorized through the state and provide your safety plan,” he said.
The concern is who might be staying in the rental, said the governor.
“If you tell me you’re going to rent it out to people in New York City, I’m probably not going to approve that,” he said. “If you’re saying you’re going to rent to people other parts of Florida … I’m fine.”
DeSantis said the pandemic has not affected the state evenly and pointed out that parts of the Panhandle have been “incredibly lightly affected.” Each county will be given the option to show how they will approach short-term rentals.
The governor also noted that he received some criticism for keeping resorts and hotels open during the rental ban, but said those rooms were needed for the National Guard and other emergency personnel.
In response to Friday’s announcement, Okaloosa Tourist Development Council has scheduled a special meeting at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss a phased approach and safety plan to submit to the governor.
Okaloosa County Public Information Officer Christopher Saul said the announcement on short-term rentals was unexpected.
“We didn’t receive any advancement (on the announcement),” he said.
On May 5 and 15, the Okaloosa TDC sent a letter to DeSantis asking him to reconsider his ban on short-term rentals. Similar letters were sent from local governments from Escambia County to Panama City.
Walton County also sent a news release Friday afternoon stating they’re working closely with their Tallahassee lobbyist and the governor’s office to facilitate the process and move “as rapidly as possible.”