‘Safety is the one thing I care about:’ Gangs in short-term rentals create problems for Jax Beach

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Gang members, drugs, and guns could all be next door and you don’t know about it. That was exactly the case this past weekend involving two short-term rentals in Jacksonville Beach. The city is concerned it could only get worse.


On Saturday, Jacksonville Beach Police, SWAT, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and gang units were involved in investigations at short-term rentals. Police arrested three people for drug possession and guns on 11th Ave S. Then on Sunday, police detained two males that officers identified with the local gang “ATK”.

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“I love the beach. I love the area. I thought it would be a good place for my family,” Chad, who lives next to one of the short-term rentals, said. “Out in the front here they had the street shut off and what appeared to be a lot of cops.”

Now he’s concerned for his family’s safety including his 9-year-old daughter. “That’s my main concern. I’m not opposed to anyone being here. But I have a wife and 9-year-old daughter. Safety is the only thing I care about.”

The incidents this past weekend prompted the Mayor of Jacksonville Beach to send a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis Tuesday asking him to veto SB 280. The bill would create a statewide registry of short-term rentals, but the city is concerned it could further strip away local power to regulate them.

It argued short-term rentals are “...gradually moving from party houses to creating serious life/safety issues for the residents...” living nearby.

According to the latest Jacksonville Beach Short-Term Rental Summary from Aug. 2023, there’s more than 900 short-term rental properties in the city.

READ: ‘They were terrified:’ Emotional Jacksonville Beach bar owner describes chaos amid 3 shootings

The report said there’s a new issue of renting short term to “gangs for the purposes of livestreaming their parties where they display guns, alcohol, and gang members.”

Neptune and Atlantic Beaches are able to ban rentals for less than 28 and 90 days respectively because the ordinances were passed in 2011 and are grandfathered in. Jacksonville Beach passed its ordinance with a short-term rental registry in 2019, which would be at risk of disappearing if SB 280 is signed.

Even still, the city said 260 properties that meet the criteria are not being registered.

Both short-term rentals involved in this past weekend’s incidents were previously listed on Airbnb. However, a representative told Action News Jax there was no Airbnb reservation at the addresses at the time of either incident.

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