Courtesy of The Panama City News Herald
Published September 26, 2015
PANAMA CITY BEACH — The Beach Council on Thursday passed
some new Spring Break ordinances but backed off others.
The council, after listening to angry owners of condominiums and scooter
rental companies, backed off proposed laws that would have put scooter
rentals out of business in a couple years and required condo owners to go
through a lengthy registration process and have someone available 24 hours a
day if police want to evict tenants.
“The ordinance is off the board,” Mayor Gayle Oberst said.
The council did give preliminary approval of a law that would ban parking in
business parking lots after the establishments are closed and allow police
to ticket property owners who don’t try to tone down “spontaneous pop-up”
events that get out of hand.
The council backed off of a proposed law that would have banned two- and
three-wheel scooter rentals after Sept. 5, 2017, and immediately banned
overnight rentals year-round. Instead, council members directed the city
staff to meet with scooter rental businesses and come back with an
alternative ordinance at the council’s next meeting Oct. 8.
Several scooter rental owners offered to cut the number of scooters they
rent out to between 40 and 60, which would result in 700 scooter rentals
instead of the 1,500 registered in the city.
Police Chief Drew Whitman said the lower numbers could help with safety
because the sheer number of scooter rentals makes it impossible to enforce
“I don’t have the manpower to enforce the laws, and I’m not going to chase
them (scooter riders violating traffic laws)” because it could pose a threat
to the public, Whitman said.
In the end, the council agreed with a proposal by Councilman Keith Curry not
to approve the proposed ordinance and to direct city staff and scooter
rental businesses “to rewrite and participate and make a new ordinance
Numerous scooter rental owners pled with the council not to take away their
“We can get this worked out with you guys,” said Colleen Swab, the owner of
Curry apologized to the scooter rental owners.
“I said this legislation is asinine,” he said. “It attacks the very
foundation of free enterprise.”
The council also rejected a proposal to regulate short-term rentals. The
proposed law would have required condo owners to go through a lengthy
registration process with the city and pay a $45 registration fee for each
unit. In addition, someone would have had to be available 24 hours day in
case there was a problem in the unit.
Hector Solis, who rents several condominiums, said a “carrot and stick”
approach needs to be put in a revised ordinance.
Condo owners cry foul over
Panama City Beach proposal