A recent Letter to the Editor titled, “Stop Attacking Tourism Here in Wilton Manors,” by local resident Marc Martorana has left me a bit perturbed and in need to respond.
Let me first say that I have always welcomed differences of opinion, encouraged dialogue between members of our community and always open to listen and learn.
If we all had the same opinions and beliefs, life would be pretty boring here in our Island City. However, my patience for misinformation, condescending attitudes, and adult hissy fits has run a bit thin over the past few years.
Marc’s main accusation is that those who oppose short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods are anti-tourism and anti-LGBT.
I am a gay man, living in a predominately gay neighborhood, in a predominately gay city. Most of my friends, acquaintances, and neighbors also identify as LGBT. Most, if not all, are opposed to operating businesses such as short-term rentals in our residential neighborhoods. How can all these LGBT people be anti-LGBT? Marc’s comments lack any awareness of all those who have a difference of opinion other than his own.
Now on to the anti-tourism claim.
Many in our community including myself have voiced strong support and worked very hard over the years for our Arts & Entertainment District; voiced support for a hotel; special designated districts for Bed & Breakfast establishments; and so many other pro-tourism initiatives here in our Island City.
Many of these same people are solidly opposed to vacation home rentals in residential neighborhoods.
Once again, the operation of short-term rental businesses in our residential neighborhoods has nothing to do with being anti-tourism or anti-LGBT — it has to do with preserving the nature of our residential neighborhoods.
Now on to the next bizarre statement in Marc’s claims, that short-term rentals are subsidizing the lower taxes that I and others are benefiting from.
Wow, where does one start with this one…well I guess I should be grateful to Marc and all the other profit-making business owners for paying their fair share of taxes in our society.
Typical of the privileged few, amongst us less fortunate ones, to feel a sense of superiority and high-mindedness on what they contribute to society.
Sorry to burst your bubble Marc, but many choose different ways to contribute to the betterment of our community than just turning a profit on their investment properties. But heck, you’re making money and life is good, so stop all the complaining.
Recent city commission discussions acknowledged the high cost and budgetary demands that short-term rentals pose for our city. The cost of additional code enforcement, attorney fees, research, city staff hours, inspections, magistrate hearings, and police department use up limited resources and all add up to a substantial drain our city’s budget.
Perhaps Marc’s higher taxes are not covering the true cost of his business ventures here in our Island City, rather all city residents’ tax bills tell a much more truthful story.
This week’s Public Comments at our City Commission meeting were dominated by the unsettling tales of the problems and concerns that short-term vacation rentals have on our daily lives and quality of life in our residential neighborhoods. Add to those complaints the demands placed on city resources to respond and to deal with such issues all hours of the day and night, one begins to understand the gravity of the situation.
The second part of Marc’s letter was an attack on both Commissioners Paul Rolli and Gary Resnick – well the main take on this is that Commissioner Chris Caputo better start watching his back.
Marc heavily supported the election of Resnick when he ran for mayor in 2016. In 2018, Marc heavily supported Rolli for election as city commissioner. Then in 2020 it was Caputo’s turn.
Fundraisers, financial support, campaign assistance and much more, Marc was right there. Along the way Commissioners Rolli and Resnick stopped marching in step to the same tune Marc was listening to and now both are vilified and attacked regularly by Mr. Martorana.
If history is any indication, and if I were Mr. Caputo, I would be concerned when might the tables turn on me next. Not to worry, your day will come. There seems to be a pretty consistent track record here on how Marc treats those he supports and calls friends.
Looking to end on a higher happier note, life here in our Island City seemed almost a return to normalcy once again this past city commission meeting.
Resident Paul Kuta was back in the commission chambers giving his public comments at the lectern for the first time in over a year. We thank the city commission, we thank Paul Kuta and we thank all residents for participating here in our Island City.
This wondrous community we call Wilton Manors is what makes life just better here…
Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.