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Marco Island residents fed up with overcrowding by strangers

A group in Southwest Florida is complaining that their island has become overcrowded with strangers. Some on Marco Island believe short-term renters are turning their usually quiet island into a party town.

To some long-time Marco Island residents, these Indiana vacationers represent the ideal visitors.

Shari Fletcher is one of those Indiana visitors. “Pretty much beach every day, pool, we’ve done some eating out, found some really good restaurants,” Flecther said.

A quiet and small family that is just looking for a nice week on the sand.

But sometimes, the people who rent out homes on Marco aren’t nearly as respectful.

The island does have rules in place when it comes to short-term rentals but a new bill,  House Bill 219, that is currently making its way through the Florida legislature could change that.

A summary of the bill states: “Requires advertising platforms to collect & remit specified taxes imposed for certain transactions; preempts regulation of vacation rentals to state; prohibits local law, ordinance, or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals, or public food service establishments; requires licenses issued by Division of Hotels & Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously to public inside licensed establishment.”

Christine Dowell says things have gotten out of control. “I mean it’s just it’s out of control,” she said.

Dowell traveled to Marco Island for a decade before finally making the move down.

“We moved out here not knowing all of this and if all this goes through and the state feels that they just want to turn the whole state into just a party town we will probably leave the state,” Dowell said.

Melissa Pittman works with short-term renters and she agrees.

“No bad experiences whatsoever. People are grateful. Owners are responsive,” Pittman said.

But she admits there are a few bad apples. So, she thinks that regulations should be left up to the local government.

“I don’t want some other entity dictating what happens here,” Pittman said.

The city agrees that it should be their decision. “The things that have been left to the cities should be left to the cities,” said Marco Island City Manager Mike McNees.

Marco Island officials say if the bill does not pass, they will try to control some of the issues caused by short-term rentals.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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