Short term rentals: Power failure shuts down Hammett's brain (video)
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This is only possible in Venice
In a previous hearing before the planning commission, attorneys for Steve Milo's Vacation Rental Pros had argued that under current zoning laws within the city, short term rentals were lawful and protected. The planning commission ruled 7-0 in Milo's favor.
Based on citizen outcry, the city appealed its own ruling. By law, the next step in the appeal process is at the city council level, which leads to the legally bizarre scenario of a city having a legal qusi-judicial hearing to overturn its own previous legal quasi-judicial ruling. This situation is sort of akin to the city suing itself. This is, of course, only possible in Venice.
On September 25, City Attorney Bob Anderson explained the schedule and the upcoming process to council, which led to massive confusion and a near-total power failure as some members of council, notably Mayor Fred Hammett and Councilman John Simmonds, could barely grasp the idea that council would be in total charge of the hearing process and of determining the final decision.
In a hilarious give-and-take between Hammett and Anderson (shown in the video below), Hammett slowly began to grasp the idea that council alone would be the trier of fact as both judge and jury, that council was out on a limb on its own, and that council had placed itself deliberately in that position by passing ordinances in the past that called for this resolution in this type of dispute.
Hammett repeatedly failed to grasp the idea that he, as Mayor, would be acting as judge. When the message finally got through to him, terror visibly overtook him as he scrambled for some way to get out of the spotlight that he and council had placed him in with the passage of previous ordinances.
Here's an edited down version of events as they unfolded at the September 25 council meeting. You may want to put your coffee down during the middle one-third of the video, this to avoid shooting it out onto your keyboard in laughter.
John Patten is the editor and publisher of Venice Florida! dot com and had previously worked in broadcasting for over 12 years. He can also be incredibly rude at times.