OpEd: Memorial Day

As we take time to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend and the official start of the summer season, two topics are swirling in my head as I sit down to write my article. The first topic is Memorial Day itself, a day to remember and honor all Americans who gave their lives serving this country while in military service.  The second topic has to do with the beginning of the summer season, which means vacation time to many. Unfortunately for residents of Wilton Manors’ neighborhoods, it means living with the problem of vacation rentals and the constant daily and weekly disruptions they create.

As we remember our fallen service personnel, we should not forget the actions taken by our political leaders who have the burden of putting our troops into action. Many of us look at the disastrous decisions by the Bush Administration that lead to the invasion of Iraqi as a complete failure, at a cost of so many lives lost, both for our troops and for the Iraqi people. The then New York State Senator, Hillary Clinton, could have helped turn the tide against the mad march to war but instead choose, in what seemed by many at the time a more popular and politically advantageous choice, to vote for the war authorization. That decision denied Hillary the nomination back in 2008 and proved to be a very bad choice for our nation.

In another war, the war on HIV/AIDS, the LGBT Community remembers all too well how Nancy and Ronnie Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis and turned their backs on old friends like Rock Hudson, with their unofficial policy that HIV/AIDS only affected homosexuals and IV drug users, not good God-fearing Americans. Once again, Hillary Clinton failed to get it right. On news of Nancy Reagan’s death, Hillary stated that the Reagan’s started a national conversation on AIDS when nobody wanted to talk about it. I think Larry Kramer’s statement rings more true, “The Reagans murdered more gay people than anyone in the history of the world.” 

Perhaps the DNC Chair and champion of the South Florida LGBT Community, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, picked a flawed candidate in her rush to nominate and elect the first female President of the United States. Given the current political climate, perhaps Schultz should have looked to Senator Elizabeth Warren instead. However, we are all flawed individuals and must make decisions based on many factors throughout our own lives, some will be good and some will be bad. If the choice for our next President is between Clinton and Trump, I will be first in line to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, that will be the best decision.

Moving on to summertime and the problem of vacation rentals.  In the same week that city emails were ablaze with complaints of a party rental here on the Westside, news out of the city commission meeting was that Jeffrey Hill, owner of numerous vacation rental properties here in Wilton Manors, decided to sue the city once again to prevent the city and residents from protecting their quality of life in our single family residential zoned neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the state restricts local municipalities from banning vacation home rentals, but many cities throughout our region are looking to code enforcement and zoning restrictions to help control the loud noises, resident complaints, parking nightmares and late-night parties. This time, I think Jeffrey is in for a big disappointment.

Pure and simple--if you want to operate a lodging business, please do so in the areas of the city that are zoned for such businesses. Make no mistake, vacation home rentals are businesses operating in areas not zoned for any such activity. There is a distinction between a homeowner wishing to rent their home seasonally for three, four or five months…and owners looking to rent on a much shorter weekly or daily time frame. These short-term rentals bring a transient element into our neighborhoods and endless headaches for residents who live next to or near one of these properties. Is requiring Jeffrey Hill to pay a licensing fee, just like any other business that operates within the city, asking too much? Owners operate these vacation home rentals to make a profit, at the expense of other tax-paying homeowners who thought they were buying homes in areas zoned for residential use only which prohibit the operation of a business or commercial enterprise.

As the summer begins, we definitely will be hearing more on these two topics swirling around my head this holiday weekend. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out comes the beginning of the fall season.

Enjoy the summer, Wilton Manorites……’cause all seasons are just better here!

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