5-21-20 - Mayor's Daily Status of Holmes Beach / COVID 19 Response
Memo: Daily Report
RE: Status of Holmes Beach / COVID 19 Response
I continue to urge all Island residents and guests to continue to practice social distancing. If over 65 years old and not providing an essential service, please stay home. Everyone in our community has a very important job to do. That job is to assume you have COVID-19 and to not spread your germs. Please continue to wash your hand, use hand sanitizer, and stay at home. I encourage all to wear home- made face masks when out in the public.
Stay healthy, stay safe, and continue to reach out with any of your concerns. I will continue these daily reports and if new mandates are warranted, I will schedule a special meeting with commission so all will be informed.
I have been receiving many calls regarding future check-ins as the executive order is set to expire next week. At this time I would expect the Governor to extend his order on no new check- ins and I urge all property managers not to accept any new reservations for the duration of this month.
This week I spent much time working with our rental stake holders, the Code Compliance Department, our Chief, and our City Attorneys to prepare in the event that the Governor does not extend his Executive Order on vacation rental restrictions. I sent out an earlier order stating all property management companies and vacation rental certificate holders should not accept any new reservations or check-ins until the Governor’s stay at home order is lifted. As Mayor, I have to look at not only public safety but also the welfare of our businesses and property owners. I was asked by a stakeholder that in this new order, I restrict rentals for 7 days at a time, similar to that of the City of Anna Maria, in the event that things get better and we are able to welcome our visitors sooner, than later. I always welcome a compromise and I value the relationship that we have with not only our residents but our local business owners.
I continue to urge all island residents to continue to practice social distancing and the stay at home mandate. We are approaching the expiration of the Governor’s orders. The State of Emergency is set to expire April 30th along with the stay at home order and the no new check in vacation rental mandates. . Self-Isolation due to travel, Restaurant dine in/Bar closures, and Elective Surgery mandates are set to expire May 8th. I am anticipating that the Governor will extend some of these orders. I am preparing a no new rental check-in directive in the event that the Governor leaves this mandate to the local governments and allow communities with minimal risk to open.
I would like to first acknowledge and thank the many property management companies and VRC certificate holders that have been adhering to the restrictions of the Governor’s Order. This pandemic has brought out the best in many. These people are deserving of praise and recognition and I plan to do just that in the very near future. Unfortunately this pandemic has also brought out the worst in some, those that continue to put the residents, guests, business owners and employees at risk by not adhering to these regulations. The lack of honesty, integrity, and morals may serve them financially in the short term but has exposed the lawless and self-absorbing traits that will follow them forever. It is very important that we continue to protect ourselves, 1st responders, health professionals and our loved ones. As you may have seen, the notice entering the island is asking all to wear masks when social distancing cannot be met. There is a heightened importance to not only wearing masks but also social distancing, hand washing, and staying at home when able. We had a lot of traffic this past weekend and we do not anticipate this slowing down as we go into Memorial Day weekend. Please look out for your neighbors, continue to help them with groceries and errands and remain joined together apart as we continue to protect our little piece of paradise and the ones we love so dearly. Stay Safe,
Today the county voted overwhelmingly to approve a re-opening plan to be submitted to the Governor for approval of short term rentals. Although I agree that we need to move forward in a plan on reopening, I do not agree that we are ready prior to Memorial Day Weekend. The Chief, Code Compliance, and I sent a letter to the county administrator and commissioners voicing our concerns but this request fell on deaf ears. It is my continued opinion that we have one chance to get this right. Our local businesses and property owners will not be able to survive another shut down. It is crucial that our residents and guests feel comfortable to once again patronize these establishments. Not one County commissioner reached out to me to discuss this proposal. The fact that this agenda item was added last minute and without consideration of weigh in from municipalities most affected is leadership at its worst.
To the resort housing industry: I ask that you take every precaution to educate your guests on the importance of social distancing and hand washing. I urge you to provide masks to staff and guests. I urge you to educate all on the necessary additional steps you are taking to sanitize your units. I urge you to train your staff on the proper way to sanitize a unit between guests and to do random audits so that you are confident best practices are being adhered to. I also urge you to ask them to wear masks when patronizing our local businesses in order to keep our residents and service workers safe. I can only hope that when all is said and done that the majority of business owners, vacation property owners, city leaders and our residents and guests will find themselves to be on the right side of history.
Today we have (1) resident testing positive for COVID-19 in the City.
State of Florida: On April 1, the Governor issued Executive Order #20-91 which limits the movement of Florida residents and their personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.
On April 2 the Governor issued two new Executive Orders related to COVID-10.
Executive Order 20-93 describing personnel support for reemployment assistance training, reemployment applications, and emergency procurement.
Executive Order 20-94 which suspends mortgage foreclosure or eviction action for 45 days.
The Governor extended his Executive Order extending the restrictions on vacation rental check-ins and reservations until the end of April.
5/21/20 I have received word that the Governor has today approved the County’s safety plan for the immediate reopening of vacation rentals in the county.
Manatee County: Manatee County commissioners are considering the adoption of the following Emergency Resolution at 2:00PM
- Manatee County Resolution R-20-045, as it may be extended from time-to time in seven-day increments, remains in full force and effect. This Resolution R-20-053 serves to supplement Resolution R-20-045.
- A curfew is hereby established, effective immediately, for all of Manatee County. All pedestrian and vehicular movement, standing and parking, except for (a) persons commuting to and from places of employment, (b) the provision of fire, police, emergency and hospital services, (c) the transport of medical patients, (d) utility repairs, (e) state and local government employees and officials providing services, (f) emergency calls by physicians, (g) food delivery services, and (h) walking of domestic animals within 250 feet of the animal owner’s residence, are prohibited during curfew hours. Curfew hours during which such movement is prohibited shall be each day from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
- Gatherings of ten or more people that do not constitute Essential Services or Essential Activities as those terms are defined in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-91, are prohibited.
- The prohibitions set forth herein shall embrace all publicly owned property, all public spaces, and all privately owned property within Manatee County, including all municipalities within the County, excepting the Town of Longboat Key.
- The restrictions set forth herein shall remain in place until such time as terminated by the Board of County Commissioners or seven (7) days from the effective date of this Resolution, whichever is sooner. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Chairperson (or in her absence, any vice-chairperson) of the Board of County Commissioners, after consultation with the Director of Public Safety (or in his absence, the Emergency Management Division Chief) is empowered to extend the period of the prohibitions declared herein, in seven (7) day increments, by memorandum, with ratifications in any event by the Board of County Commissioners as soon as is practicable at a regular or special meeting.
- Any person violating any provision of this Emergency Resolution is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in Section 252.50, Florida Statutes.
- This Resolution shall take effect immediately upon its adoption.
DULY ADOPTEDwith a quorum present and voting this 3rd day of April, 2020.
Manatee County Commissioners adopted with changes: Curfew between the hours of 11:00PM and 5:00AM, also removed the 250 ft maximum for dog walking.
At the 4/21/20 commission meeting the Manatee County Commissioners have lifted the local curfew.
City Hall: The Mayor has extended the State of Emergency for an additional 7 days (4/13/20) and for auto renewal until terminated by an official action of the Mayor.
The Mayor signed resolution 20-11, a declaration implementing the Governor’s order 20-69 that authorizes electronic or virtual meetings using communication media technology and adopting meeting procedures for the city commission.
The Mayor has issued an Executive Order 4-7-20 stating that all Property Management Companies and Vacation Rental Certificate holders should not accept any new reservations or check-ins until the Governor's Stay at Home Order is lifted.
The vacation rental management companies have informed us that we have many check-ins scheduled for this weekend. During today’s weekly Policy Group Conference Call with all neighboring Municipalities and the County we all agreed to ask the County to reach out to the Governor to urge him to extend his order for the duration of the stay at home order which expires the end of this month. In the event that the Governor does not extend this order, the city attorney has been tasked to research the municipal legal ability to draft an official mandate that can be locally enforced.
Due to anticipated heavy use of the beaches this weekend and the increased use of the beach in the past 2 days, The Mayor executed An Emergency Directive 20-03, A supplemental emergency directive of the Mayor for the City of Holmes Beach, Florida, Reaffirming a State of Local Emergency related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19); Prohibiting Beach access parking; prohibiting on-street parking on any city street; prohibiting right of way parking; providing for towing of vehicles in violation of this emergency directive; providing for penalties; and providing for an effective date.
An Emergency Directive is being drafted prohibiting check-ins for residential rental properties for any term prior to May 1, 2020; Prohibiting advertisements of rental of residential properties for check-ins prior to May 1, 2020; and providing for a termination date.
The Mayor executed An Emergency Directive 20-05, Prohibiting check-ins for residential rental properties with conditions and exceptions; prohibiting advertisements of rental of residential properties with conditions and exceptions; providing for penalties for violations; providing for an effective date; and providing for a termination date.
On 4/28/20 The Mayor executed An Emergency Directive 20-13, Prohibiting check-ins for residential rental properties with conditions and exceptions; prohibiting advertisements of rental of residential properties with conditions and exceptions; providing for penalties for violations; providing for an effective date; and providing for a termination date. This Directive will extend the no rental check in for an additional 7 days following the 4/30/20 expiration of the Governor’s Executive Order.
City Hall doors are no longer open to the public. Access is to essential city employees only. The back door to the police department is open for emergency access.
Essential City staff is operating as usual while taking proper precautions. We are continuing providing service to our residents and business owners via email and telephone communication and teleconferencing.
We are currently focusing all our efforts into providing up to date information via social media through the HB police Facebook page and our new city website. Both local newspapers receive links of all information that is posted.
Our Parks and Beautification Meeting is cancelled.
Our Planning Commission Meeting is cancelled.
Our City Commission Work session is cancelled.
Our April 14th City Commission Meeting and Work Session is cancelled. Our next City Meeting and Work Session is scheduled for April 28th.
Our City Commission Meeting is going to be held via teleconferencing and Matt M. will be contacting all commissioners with login information and to assist with this new format. All login credential will be provided through our information channels listed above to allow for public participation.
All Departments are continuing to add content to our New ADA Compliant Website.
The Mayor has sent out an official request to all VRC certificate holders/ management companies/ and hotel/motels urging them to immediately stop taking any future reservations until further notice. JT and the Chief have personally reached out to many of these managers and have received a positive response to this request. Occupancy continues to decline but given the concerns of residents we will continue to daily monitor.
The Mayor and Chief attended the Weekly Policy Holders Group meeting and several issues were discussed: Manatee County Drive-Thru testing: Testing will be available at the Civic Center on Habin Blvd between 10AM and 4PM through the weekend. They will offer 50 appointments a day to Manatee County Residents via the Department of Health. They must have a prescription by a local Doctor and a photo I.D. or copy of utilities bill. Drive thru testing is closed due to lack of test kits.
First Responders with symptoms will now have testing samples sent via the Health Department so that they can receive faster results in an effort to get them back out on the front lines sooner.
Tourism: There was much discussion about resort housing and hotel/motels. It was agreed that there would have to be a united front in any mandates disallowing rentals. All parties are aware that the City of Holmes Beach is a willing participant in these efforts and have been made clear regarding the concerns of our constituents.
Barriers will be placed at both boat ramps on 3/26/20 to prepare for the boat launch park closures. Salt water Product License holders and active recovery of boats will be permitted at the Coquina South Boat Ramp.
Message board at City Hall has been changed to read “Stay Home”
Manatee County has temporarily closed their tennis, pickle ball and skate parks at G.T. Bray and Blackstone Park. The City of Bradenton will temporarily close River Walk Skate Park. The City of Holmes Beach will continue to address restrictions in a unified front with the County and our neighboring municipalities in our fight against COVID-19. As of today 3/31/20, all city parks will be closed to the public. This includes the Tennis/Pickle ball court, the dog park, the basketball court, and the skate park.
The island mayors are working with the county administrator in a public safety plan for the reopening of resort housing. I have asked that the draft come before our city commission prior to being voted on at the County. This will take time as once this proposal is approved by commission it then must be approved by the state. I would not expect there to be any real approvals prior to June.
Police: Police are monitoring the beach daily and we have minimal people on the beach as all beaches have been closed. Everyone who is on the beach is practicing social distancing.
Will continue to monitor our beach accesses daily and will we make necessary adjustment to parking as needed. All beach closure enforcement is focused on reduced parking at this time. Added additional no parking to 5 roads. Have estimated a reduction in parking by 85 – 90% in the city.
As you drive through the city you will find that every beach access has had parking reduced allowing only 2-3 vehicles to park at any access. Rest assured that officers are working diligently to keep our city safe. Code Compliance, our public works and Manatee County Code Enforcement all have been a great help in getting compliance.
There is a proposed plan through the county to close the boat ramps. This will most likely go into effect on Thursday or Friday of this week.
The City of Holmes Beach boat ramps will be scheduled to close to the public on Thursday 3/26/20 at 6AM. This will coincide with all neighboring city and county ramp closures.
Beach inspections continue to show minimal use.
Beach inspections over the weekend showed more people. The police added more no parking signs in the 30th block area. Passage Key appeared to have the greatest number of boaters and FWC was tasked with issuing tickets.
Police and Code compliance is monitoring the use of the dog-park and skate park. Police observed too many kids at the skate park yesterday evening and they were instructed to go home. We will continue to monitor in the event that this park will need to be temporarily closed.
Every day we have less people on the beach. Today we had zero parking violations. It appears by the reduction of people, the rental properties are taking heed to the Mayor’s request and are cancelling and\or not taking any new reservations.
A Press Release that will be distributed to all Vacation Rental Certificate holders and Management Companies today informing them of the Executive Order 20-87. Notification is given that any rental found to be in violation shall be immediately reported to DBPR. “DBPR shall revoke the vacation rental license of any party that violates this order or otherwise advertises vacation rental opportunities during the duration of this order”. The Holmes Beach Police Department and Code Compliance Department are proactively enforcing this policy.
Police issued their first criminal citations to a property owner and their tenant for violating the Governor’s order for check in. Code Compliance will also be issuing violations for failure to have a VRC. The city has received many calls from residents providing addresses of suspected violators. Our License Plate Reader and VRC program is helping determine if these are true violations.
The Police and Code Compliance are working all week on the continued enforcement of the no new check in mandate.
On Easter weekend Police towed 7 vehicles and issued 69 parking tickets. There was one additional rental violation putting us up to a total of 3. All were issued criminal citations to both the owner and the renter for violating the Governor’s order.
Beginning the week of 4/14/20 public works staff under the direction of the chief will be adding signage designating only the required beach access parking for federal beach re-nourishment funding. All other right of way parking will be designated no parking. This will allow us a controlled reopening of the beaches once the beach closure mandates are lifted by the County. Presently Holmes Beach has more than 2000 available parking spaces at our Public Beach, Hancock Bank, and right of ways west of the ¼ mile boundary. For beach re-nourishment funding, we only are required to provide less than 25% of that number. In the future, the commission may determine that some of these parking designations should remain in effect indefinitely in response to the heightened development in the mainland. Chief will provide a staff report mapping parking locates for future considerations.
Holmes Beach Police will be participating in the “solute to hospital staff” at Blake Hospital at 3:00PM on 4/17/20 as all local law enforcement, fire, and EMS gather to recognize the hospital staff for their bravery and commitment during these trying times.
Weekend of 4/18/20 – Police issued 37 parking violations. Weather was not conducive to beach activity so it was relatively slow.
Kingfish boat ramp had a lot of activity but social distancing practices were observed.
Contrary to the story on the front page of the 4/21/20 Islander Newspaper, Beach access parking remains closed. I have asked them to print a retraction and to immediately post this on their website.
4/27/20 – the Chief of police has completed his beach access parking recommendation to be presented to the commission on Tuesday’s commission meeting under staff comments. This is in anticipation of the County to re-open the beaches in the coming weeks. This recommendation will include the required parking for beach re-nourishment funds.
4/29/20 – The Chief of police has issued an additional press release making people aware that the opening of the county beach does not open up parking for the beach accesses, city streets, or right of ways in the City of Holmes Beach.
5/1/20 – It was brought to the Mayor’s attention that FDOT was asked by the County Administrator to review the overflow parking on the South side of Manatee Ave at Kingfish Ramp. Unfortunately, nor the Mayor or the Chief were made aware until after signs prohibiting parking in the right of ways were installed by FDOT. The Mayor and Chief quickly reached out to the County and then to FDOT informing them of the hardships that this will create in a very unfortunate time and that dis-allowing historic overflow parking in this area was a mistake. We believe that once the County is able to repair the Palma Sola boat ramp this problem will fix itself. Accommodating our boating community is very important to the city of Holmes Beach. FDOT has given the Chief permission to temporarily place bags over the newly installed signs to allow the necessary time to come up with a safer and more designated parking area to accommodate these excess trucks and trailers. Thank you FDOT for allowing us this opportunity.
It has been brought to our attention that there is a large increase in beach goers using commercial property and church properties to park. Being that this is private property, it is up to the property owner to enforce their parking by installing signs. If property signage has been installed they may reach out to the Holmes Beach Police to issue tickets. It is up to the property owner to initiate cars to be towed.
We continue to be concerned with the amount of people that are coming to the city to use the beaches. It is are continued recommendation that the County continue to have reduced parking at the Public Beach as this is the only way to achieve social distancing.
Public works: Public Works has been assigned a schedule to inspect and sanitize city hall building and vehicles to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All efforts are being made to keep exposure to the minimum while maintaining daily activities. They have assisted the police in adding additional no parking signs throughout the city.
All work is tracked in a W.O. tracking system in the event we would qualify for FEMA reimbursements. All employees are scheduled daily and performing all necessary activities.
Public works is continuing to improve public safety in our city. The past 2 days they have been improving the West of Gulf Drive pedestrian paths to the 56th St. Beach access.
Public works has re-opened the large dog park only. The covered pavilions are closed to social gathering. This park will be monitored on a daily basis to make certain people are abiding by social distancing. I am encouraging dog owners with additional signage to have no more than 10 people at this park at any given time and to maintain social distancing. The small dog park will be reopened in a couple of weeks just as soon as the new grass is ready to be played on.
Public works has re-opened the boat ramp. Playground is almost complete.
Code Compliance: Staff is currently collecting occupancy data from all VRC holders and Hotels/Motels. This will be valuable information to assess the visitor count in our city. We are asking for daily updates in the event the Governor issues a new executive order with regards to Hotels, Motels, or vacation rental mandates.
We are advising all management companies to not allow any new reservations until state mandates are lifted. According to the Governor, tourism to our state has dramatically increased due to the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut stay at home orders. All people traveling from these states to Florida are mandated to a 14 day self- quarantine. I will continue to monitor our daily occupancy requests from our stakeholders. As of today occupancy is still on a decline for our short term housing.
Staff is reaching out to all essential business owners to document how they are responding to the COVID-19 and any new service policies. This information will be provided on our city website to assist our residents and visitors on how to obtain meal and essential supplies locally.
Code Compliance is no longer conducting VRC inspections until further notice.
Code Compliance sent out an email notification to all vacation property owners and Management Company informing them of the new Governor mandate:
“Governor DeSantis has ordered check points be installed along the State’s major roads coming into the pan handle from the Gulf Coast including I-10. He also suspended all new vacation rentals in Florida for the next 14 days. Effective immediately, new vacation rentals will not be permitted in the State of Florida. Anyone who is in a vacation rental now is asked to finish up and go home. There is also a new mandatory 14 day quarantine for people coming from Louisiana.”
Code compliance has been responding to resident concerns in vacation rentals with NY plates. At this time all are in compliance with the Governor’s order. They will continue to enforce this order daily.
Code compliance checked approximately 20 properties today. They found 9 properties to be in violation with advertising mandates and when tested, allowed booking and check in. Nate is continuing to monitor the advertising and check-ins and all properties found to be in violation will be cited and reported to DBPR.
Code compliance is reaching out to all non- essential businesses in the City of Holmes Beach to inform them of the Governor’s Mandate and will enforce this executive order.
Code compliance and the police force will be out this weekend to monitor all vacation rental properties to make certain there are no check-ins. A temporary banner has been placed at the entrance of the city stating “No Vacation Rental Check ins”. Historically, Saturday’s are our most active check in day.
No new rental check-in violations found on 4/8/20
No new rental check-in violations found on 4/9/20
No new rental check-in violations found on 4/10/20
No new rental check-in violations found on 4/15/20
Code checked 23 properties over Easter weekend to determine if there were check-in’s violating the Governor’s order. Only 1 property was found in violation. The home owner was given a $250 citation for booking a short stay and also given a notice to appear for violating the Governor’s Order.
So far we have only found 3 violations which were all mailed to the DBPR on 4/13/20.
We have about 5 properties we will be checking today and will address if issues are found.
Code also checked 2 construction complaints but no violations were found at either.
I have asked code to please refrain from on-site visits as much as possible and to do as much of the complaints that do not concern public safety as a drive by or online research. As the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise as do the deaths in the county.
Code compliance investigator has been diligently working to monitor vacation rental advertising and check-ins to ensure everyone is complying with the Governor's Order. Also checking VRC compliance
Code compliance inspectors have checked over 100 reports of violations against the check-in order and had 12 reported this past weekend and are investigating all of them.
Code compliance has found one additional renter in violation of the Governor’s no new check-in order. He was given a notice to appear by the police department. In this instance the property owner was not reported to the DBPR as the renter had told him that he was a Government worker employed to the COVID-19 response.
4/27/20 Code compliance found an additional renter in violation of the Governor’s no new check-in order. He was given a notice to appear by the police department. The owner of the rental is also going to be given a notice to appear. This will be reported to the DBPR.
5/1/20 Code compliance is currently reaching out to all businesses with literature and policy implementation guidance to make certain they are aware of the Governor’s phase 1 order and how it applies to them. Education is key and they will continue to take a pro-active approach in achieving compliance in each new order and at the same time offer any assistance given the economic hardship this pandemic has caused to our business community.
5/4/20 Code compliance has found 2 more rental properties in violation of the Governor’s order after inspection 37 possible violations. They have been given a notice to appear by the police department. The owner of the rental properties were given a notice to appear. These property owners will be reported to the DBPR.
5/5/20 Code compliance has found 1 additional rental property in violation of the Governor’s order. They have been given a notice to appear by the police department. The owner of the rental property was given a notice to appear and will be reported to the DBPR.
5/12/20 Code compliance has found an additional 4 properties in violation of the Governor’s order over the past weekend and through today. They have each been given a notice to appear by the police department. The owner of the rental property was given a notice to appear and will be reported to the DBPR.
5/15/20 Code compliance continues to investigate with the chief all possible violations of the Governor’s executive order. As you may have seen on the news yesterday we had a complaint on the Chief for citing a family member who was staying in a vacation rental for 7 days. This was not an immediate family member as the rental unit belonged to their Aunt. The family member was paying rent for their stay. The Chief has taken the Governor’s order seriously for the protection of our residents. The Order states that “vacation rentals are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings and shall not except new guests for check ins for the duration of this order.” The Chief interprets this as any new guest that is not the owner or the owner’s immediate family. The Chief reviewed his interpretation with the Governor’s General Council who has said that the Chief’s interpretation is the intent of the order. I thank the Chief for continuing his efforts in keeping our residents and guests and business owners safe.
5/18/20 Code compliance continues to investigate all possible violations to the Governor’s executive order.
Building Department: This department is accepting online permits only. All staff is available by email and phone to all contractors and owners. Inspections are still being performed as of today. All Contractors were notified to limit workers on jobs to under 10.
As of Monday, all inspectors will be wearing personal protective equipment. Video submitted inspections are being considered for small permits.
The Building Department is equipped with video technology for small job inspections and occupied home inspections. A mass email will go out to all contractors on the free app and implementations.
Treasurer: Our City Treasurer is working from home and staying current on all tasks.
HR: Maureen has emailed all employees the latest Personnel Rules and Regulations on Section VII – Leave, the latest City of Holmes Beach Criteria for Return to Work Policy and Employee Paid Sick Leave Rights.
The Mayor has executed an official request to all essential businesses in the City. Employers are encouraged to adapt the COVID-19 Screening and Social Distancing Procedures outlined in this policy guidance document.