As a member of Sandbridge’s small business community, we have been asked to forward along this very important information, regarding tomorrow’s vote on a “short term rental ordinance.”

SANDBRIDGE “IF IT’S NOT BROKE DON’T FIX IT”

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 12 PM in City Council Chambers the Planning Commission will be voting on a recommendation for a “Short Term Rental Ordinance” to the City Council that will likely have a significant negative economic impact for the Sandbridge beach home vacation rental community, and the quality of life for those who live and work in the vicinity.  The Sandbridge beach home vacation rental has an annual positive economic impact for beach home rentals, the venders and contractors who service the beach houses, retail, food and beverage businesses (Red Mill, Strawbridge, Oceanfront etc.) and the City of Virginia Beach and its citizens in connection with the associated tax revenues.

A few Sandbridge residents, with the help of others, started aggressive lobbying efforts to put in place a “Short Term Rental Ordinance”.  The proposed Ordinance is on the verge of becoming law, with overreaching and unnecessary regulations that will likely result in a negative economic impact on the Sandbridge beach home rental market, and even possible catastrophic results to some beach home owners and local businesses.

The proposed Ordinance and regulations will impact the Sandbridge locality more than any other section of the City.

The 15 regulations include a provision that if there are three adjudicated violations of applicable local, state or federal laws or regulations that relate to a particular short term rental the beach home rental owner’s right to rent his beach home could be revoked.  As written it is a possible scenario that vacationers who stay in the same beach home who have adjudicated violations, of even minor infractions (parking violation, violation of noise ordinance, “taking a tag off of a mattress???” etc.) without the beach home owners knowledge, could result in an owner losing the right to rent his or her beach home.  Another regulation would require guests above a stated maximum occupancy to leave the beach house by 11:00p.m.  The last regulation, and one of the most oppressive regulations, which amounts to a significant invasion of privacy, permits the City to inspect a beach home even when the owner or vacationers are enjoying the home.

These regulations will likely have a stifling effect on an otherwise robust and healthy Sandbridge beach home rental community, diverting tourists who do not like these needless regulations to choose other beach home rental destinations such as North Carolina and South Carolina. (OBX, Myrtle Beach).  If beach homes are taken out of the rental market there will be a corresponding decline in tourists visiting Sandbridge, and a decline in revenues at local businesses which could result in closures of businesses you own or patronize.

It is EXTREMELY important to let the Planning Commission know that the overwhelming majority of businesses and individuals within the Sandbridge community are opposed to the Ordinance and regulations as proposed.  We need people to fill the City Council Chambers, and the halls outside, and if you so choose to sign up and speak to express opposition.

Please attend the Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 12 PM in City Council Chambers.  Please sign up and speak.  It is recommended that you be there 30 minutes early to sign up to speak.  If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact the SANDBRIDGE VACATION HOMES ASSOCIATION at (757) 846-8968 or SandbridgeVHA@gmail.com

Sandbridge Rental Property Debate…forward looking or retroactively punitive?

 

Unfortunately, city council, the residents of Sandbridge, and the array of people who rely on this community for their livelihood, have to address an egregious attempt to limit occupancy numbers of current homes in the Sandbridge community, not ones to be built in the future, but ones currently earning rental income, and therefore tax dollars for the city of Virginia Beach. As we understand it, the complaint being brought to city council by a few individuals with the personal financial resources to drive this, is that the many of the rental properties in Sandbridge allow for too many people to stay in them at any given time. The proponents of this are also trying to eliminate the ability of home owners to rent their homes for shorter periods than a week, and more than one rental per week, which essentially eliminates shoulder and off-season business. The concern is that with more people in these homes, there are more disturbances to the peace in the Sandbridge community. The evidence speaks to the contrary. All forms of larceny, besides incidents of shoplifting which have held steady at 1 incident per year, have dropped significantly from 2016-2017, ranging from a reduction of 52.2 % for general larcenies to 84.7% for larceny from motor vehicles. Though inappropriate and disturbing behavior by vacationers is an understandable concern, the focus and means to which the petitioners aim to achieve their end, are completely misguided, and will not only have a detrimental impact on Sandbridge in general, but on the volume of tax dollars funneling into the city of Virginia Beach’s general fund, in specific. What we are proposing, the details of which will be outlined below, is a more equitable, rational, logistically efficient, and forward-looking solution to these concerns.

 

Probably the most impactful part of this issue, for not only property owners in Sandbridge, but also for residents of the entire city of Virginia Beach, is tax revenue. The city of Virginia Beach heavily advertises Sandbridge as a vacation destination, and for good reason. Not only is Sandbridge a unique beach community, surrounded by Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, welcoming visitors from around the world, but the tax dollars created by Sandbridge are significant. The most recent figures indicate Sandbridge generated $23,963,000, being the only community in the city that is revenue positive. This breaks down to $5.5 million in hotel tax, $5.7 million in TOT, $12.6 million in real estate taxes, and $163,000 in restaurant taxes. Sandbridge Realty estimates that if occupancy numbers are reduced to the proposed level, there will be approximately a 25% reduction in tax revenue. It goes without saying that this would have a devastating effect on Virginia Beach in general, and Sandbridge in specific. The reasons for this are myriad. Included in these are that the city would see a significant reduction in available funds, which would have a detrimental impact on the entire city. Secondly, a difficult to determine number of people would lose their jobs, including people who work directly in Sandbridge to those supporting the vacation industry in all corners of the city, creating higher unemployment rates.

 

Along with reducing tax dollars coming into the city, a short-sighted decrease in the number of people current homes are allowed to sleep would unfairly and inordinately affect homeowners in Sandbridge. The petitioners are suggesting that these people, who help generate millions of dollars a year for the city of Virginia Beach, be required to limit the number of people their houses sleep, despite the fact that these same houses were already approved by the city, and in many cases have been in the rental market for years. These tax paying homeowners rely on the income from their rental properties, and a significant reduction of rental income this proposal will incur, is an unfair financial burden to bear. In many cases they will have to list their homes for sale, out of financial necessity, flooding the market with difficult to sell properties. A minor issue compared to someone’s financial well-being is the simple fact of logistics. As mentioned previously, these houses have already been permitted by the city of Virginia Beach. How is it possible to limit a house to a certain occupancy, when the home, in some instances, may comfortably sleep twice as many? Also, how would this be an enforceable regulation, particularly when there would now conceivably be multiple empty bedrooms in a house? This retroactive approach just does not make financial or logistic sense.

 

Another direct impact of Sandbridge’s tax revenue creation is the ability to fund its own sand replenishment. This is a very real concern for not only homeowners, but the health of Back Bay. Sand replenishment, and the subsequently larger beaches it creates, helps to reduce salinity levels in the bay. Higher salinity levels adversely affect wildlife that call the bay home, which in turn adversely affects the waterman who rely on Back Bay for their livelihood. Again, the proposal to significantly reduce the number of vacationers that have access to Sandbridge has far reaching effects. As of July 30th, 2017, between the Sandbridge SSD and TIF funds (unaudited) and the Sandbridge Beach Restoration Capital Projects, Sandbridge has $50,242,272 in its sand replenishment fund, which enables the community to remain self-sufficient during sand replenishment projects. Restricting the tax dollars that Sandbridge generates would limit the community from supporting its own sand replenishment, which if the city wants to continue to attract visitors from around the world, is an absolute necessity.

This is a textbook example of a very simple issue that has been blown out of proportion by a small group of wealthy interests. Please help us fight this proposal by maintaining Sandbridge as a community for all, one that provides financial vitality for small businesses, many of which provide first time jobs for young people in our community.

Please help us support the vacation communities of Sandbridge and the oceanfront by signing the included letter, and/or writing your own letter to city council members at their email addresses listed below.

 

Letter to the City Council of Virginia Beach

As a resident of the city of Virginia Beach, I am very concerned about the recent proposal by Barbara Henley, the Princess Anne District City Council representative. She has aligned herself with a small group of Sandbridge residents, in an attempt to retroactively limit the number of people current vacation homes can sleep. This proposal also attempts to limit the duration and number of reservations current vacation homes are allowed. The reasoning behind this proposal is to prevent renters in large rental houses from disturbing neighboring homes. These issues constitute a very small number of rentals throughout the year, and there are already safeguards in place to handle noise/disturbance complaints.

This proposal is not only unfairly punitive on homeowners, but also on residents throughout the city of Virginia Beach. As a revenue positive community, if this proposal is passed, best estimates indicate that Sandbridge’s tax revenue would be decreased by twenty five percent, which would significantly reduce the community’s contribution to the city of Virginia Beach’s general fund. As a point of reference, the most recent figures indicate Sandbridge generated $23,963,000 in tax dollars. This proposal would also detrimentally affect the ability of Sandbridge to contribute to their sand replenishment fund, which the community currently funds itself. Sand replenishment is essential for not only the health of Back Bay, reducing salt water overwash, but also the desirability of Sandbridge as a world class vacation destination.

 

Along with the more obvious impacts of this proposal, there are more far reaching and incalculable ones, such as the effect it will have on small businesses and service providers that support the Sandbridge community. By reducing the number of renters, and controlling the duration of a rental, in current vacation homes, there will be a significant decrease in dollars going to support small business, such as restaurants, maintenance and cleaning companies, city attractions, etc, who have all come to rely on and build their business models based on current market demand. This proposal would have a devastating financial effect across the city.

We agree that we want to continue to cultivate a family friendly environment in Sandbridge, but disagree that Mrs. Henley’s proposal is the best way to achieve this end. The city’s planning commission has already recommended that this proposal is an overreach and redundant. We also believe that this entire process is a fleecing of taxpayer dollars, and that the city’s administrative time could be used for more productive purposes. This time and money should be used to implement solutions to the very pressing flooding problems throughout the city, of which there are two neighborhoods in Mrs. Henley’s district that suffer from this. We request that you heed our pleas to disregard this unfair, retroactive, punitive, and financially burdensome legislation that will be financially devastating to a wide spectrum of interests throughout the city.

Thank you for your time,

 

 

Please email and call City Council Members to voice your objection to this proposal.

 

wsessoms@vbgov.com,  lrjones@vbgov.com, jabbot@vbgov.com, bdavenpo@vbgov.com, bdyer@vbgov.com, bhenley@vbgov.com, skane@vbgov.com, jdmoss@vbgov.com, juhrin@vbhotels.com, rcwilson@vbgov.com, jlwood@vbgov.com

 

Will Sessoms (Mayor)

757.385.4581

Louis Jones (Vice Mayor)

757.583.0177

Jessica Abbot (Councilmember, Kempsville)

757.577.2068

Ben Davenport (Councilmember, At Large)

757.286.2817

Robert Dyer, (Councilmember, Centerville)

757.467.3130

Barbara Henley (Councilmember, Princess Anne)

757.426.7501

Shannon Kane (Councilmember, Rose Hall)

757.802.3236

John Moss (Councilmember, At Large)

757.363.7745

John Uhrin (Councilmember, Beach)

757.425.5222

Rosemary Wilson (Councilmember, At Large)

757.422.0733

James Wood (Councilmember, Lynnhaven)

757.785.4342

 

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