Commission: More hotel beds needed for tourists

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — County Commission Chair Bob Solari says the time is right for the County to court hotels in the hope of bringing more beds for the ever-increasing number of heads that come to visit.

The County recently enacted a strong, new Short-Term Rental ordinance at the same time burgeoning tourism has created a demand for overnight stays. The two have resulted in a shortage of hotel rooms available, according to Solari.

“We’re putting a strait-jacket on our pressure-release,” he said at Tuesday’s County Commission.

He said he’s heard that the County’s hotel rates are among the highest in the state.

“Economically this is consistent with higher demand and flat supply. If the supply of hotel rooms does not increase, the number of short-term rentals will.”

Both the County, with its tough new ordinance, and Vero Beach, which bans rentals under 30 days, hope to stop the proliferation of these troublesome businesses, in the past few years the cause of bitter battles between neighbors who run the businesses and those who don’t want them nearby.

Solari said bringing in new hotels would encourage tourism and decrease the need for short-term rentals, and he suggested the County’s Community Development Department work with the Tourist Development Council, the Indian River and Sebastian Chambers of Commerce, and the Treasure Coast Sports Commission to determine which hotel chains might be interested and where they might build.

He suggested incentives, including reducing impact fees.

The Commission agreed that there is an immediate need for more hotel rooms, and will direct staff to investigate current room numbers; land availability; hotel chains with interest in the area; and incentives that could be offered.

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