Sanibel Accommodations Allowed to Accept Reservations

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

Sanibel City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday, May 12, to allow vacation rentals for a minimum of 30 days effective May 16, which reduces the previous limitation from six months. Council likewise voted unanimously to allow hotels, motels, resorts and timeshares to rent at a 50 percent occupancy.

Council members had a lengthy deliberation over whether to authorize 25 or 50 percent capacity. Councilwoman Holly Smith initially proposed 25 percent as a measured first step. “It’s time to open the door a little, but I’m concerned about stepping in too quickly,” she said.

“I think if we take a small measured step for a couple of weeks and then another step at a different percentage, we are allowing opportunity for our proprietors and also saying to our citizens ‘we are hearing you,’” Smith said.

Councilman Richard Johnson took the position that 25 percent would be too difficult for the businesses to operate and said a “big surge of visitors won’t happen” because travel has not fully resumed. Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane agreed that quarter occupancy would be tough.

“From a business point of view, I struggle with 25 percent getting them back in the black,” said Ruane. “We are not necessarily allowing them to pay their bills and bring back furloughed people, which doesn’t accomplish what we are trying to do – have a balance and pay their bills.”

Island Inn General Manager Chris Davison told council members during public comment he would not be able to bring back employees at a 25 percent occupancy limitation and hoteliers were not looking to have sick people as guests. He added that Island Inn will take temperatures and give extensive questionnaires to guests who are checking in. “We’re in this together,” he said.

However, reservations can not be accepted from COVID-19 “hot spots” identified by Governor Ron DeSantis, which includes the New York tri-state area and Louisiana, as well as Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida. Accommodations are also strongly encouraged to follow the Sanibel-Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce “SanCap Safe” guidelines.

In other decisions, council voted to incorporate a strong encouragement of wearing face masks as part of the emergency proclamation, effective immediately and until further notice. Although there were several members of the public who called for wearing face masks mandatory.

Comments (6)

  1. Another example of government stupidity. Who is going to want to rent for 30 days? Obviously they want to see people stay on unemployment. I notice. Bailey’s is more than 50% occupancy.
    Who r these people to tell us what to do. I guess they think we’re too stupid to make our own decisions.

  2. MJ Siewert. OHIO

    Having a limit of 30 day vs weekly rentals makes no sense! It’s still the same amount of people in rentals no matter how long they stay. I have rented weekly on Captiva for over 27 years. And at least 3 x a year. I have always experienced the rentals to be much cleaner than any hotel I have ever booked. If you can count you can figure it out. Free the weekly rentals in Captiva or you will see tourism go to another destination for good.

    • It’s not the same though. If you take a 30 day rental time frame with one guest or family check in that’s one turnover in 30 days. If you take a weekly turnover in that same 30 day time frame, that means it’s turned over 4 times with 4 sets of different people.

  3. All hail our friendly island Paradise ! Yesterday at the Post office I saw a display of rudeness that would send any tourist running towards the causeway. We were all lined up, in masks, 6 ft. apart in the middle of the space in front of the automatic doors to the inner sanctum where only 5 people are allowed at at a time. An exiting customer demanded that the person waiting next to enter move out of the way and give her sufficient room to exit. There was plenty of room if one just walked around – a mere step or two more. In this time of transition one can only wear a mask, wipe down your grocery cart, wear disposable gloves and stay out of places that make you uncomfortable. You cannot rely on other people to protect you or demand that other people cede their right of way to you. Our island is opening up as is the rest of the world. Perhaps we didn’t give the public health people all the time they wanted and perhaps there will be a price to be paid but we are in this together ! Let ‘s do what we can to keep ourselves safe and please, let’s be kind to one another.

    • Some folks just don’t know how to be polite and kind. Further more take care of themselves in this pandemic. Rude!!

  4. The city council is out of touch with the vacation rental business on Sanibel. Sanibel beaches are lined with far more condo complexes than timeshares or hotels, but it seems the council does not care. As a long time condo owner who uses rental income to cover some of the condo costs, allowing hotels and timeshares to book rentals but not condos, makes no sense. A hotel room could potentially have a different person in a room every night, allowing for more possible contamination than a person staying in a condo for a week could do. Month long rentals occur in the winter and early spring months, rarely in the summer months. Condo owners want to reopen to rentals too and with restrictions to assure everyone’s safety. We have support teams that are anxious to get back to work too.

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