Another setback in Jacksonville's attempts to regulate Airbnbs

Push to regulate short-term rentals

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gina Martinelli’s Avondale home is covered in artwork, including her own.

She showed Action News Jax reporter Brittney Donovan the amenities she’s been offering Airbnb guests for four years.

Outside are several courtyards and a hot tub, and inside are a piano and other musical instruments.

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“I’ll play the piano, and I’ll say, ‘Well, do you sing? Do you have a favorite song?’ And the next thing you know, they’re singing with me,” she said.

Jacksonville is among cities discussing ways to regulate Airbnbs. This week, Councilman Jim Love requested to pull a second bill that would have meant more restrictions.

“There are neighbors here who are very afraid to put their children outside when those houses are being rented. They just don’t know who’s there,” Warren Jones, with Riverside Avondale Preservation, said.

Jones said the group’s goal is to help facilitate between commercial interests and those of residents.

Among issues he says he’s heard from neighbors guests throwing parties, disturbing the peace or leaving trash around the property.

Jones said when a disturbance does happen, some hosts aren’t around to deal with it.

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“It’s just a complicated issue, and it really just needs more time and more thought,” he said. “We want to make sure people feel safe in their neighborhoods, there are no disruptions in their neighborhoods and they enjoy living there with their children.”

He and Martinelli agree not all hosts are causing problems.

“I think they need to make sure that people are not just buying up six houses, then not being there to see what’s going on,” Martinelli said. “Me being here as a host encourages people to show their best, and they do.”

The City Council and the zoning committee will both have to vote to withdraw the bill to regulate short-term rentals.

Meanwhile, Martinelli says she'll continue to show visitors all Avondale has to offer.