Madeira Beach Special Magistrate Tackles Short-Term Rental and Tiki Hut Violations

In a recent session of the Madeira Beach Special Magistrate, one notable issues revolved around the enforcement of city codes, with focus on repeated short-term rental violations and debate over unpermitted Tiki hut structures. The session addressed multiple cases.

One of the central cases involved a property located at 480 129th Avenue East, cited for violating the city’s prohibition on short-term rentals. Deputy Snider, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy and code enforcement officer for Madeira Beach, presented evidence including a video and a phone call with the owner to support the city’s case. The detailed examination of documents from the property appraiser and tax collector, along with the deputy’s notes, underscored the thorough approach to code enforcement. Despite the evidence, the meeting did not conclude the case, as the special magistrate sought additional information, such as the green card confirming receipt of the violation notice.

A related discussion involved Mr. DeCandido, a respondent found in violation for a second time for operating short-term rentals in an R2 district. The city proposed a daily fine of $300 and demanded the cessation of such rentals. Mr. DeCandido highlighted his retirement and diminished role in property management, while his realtor pointed to efforts made to rectify the situation, including obtaining necessary licenses and inspections. The debate extended to the compliance timeline and the nature of the rental agreements, scrutinizing Mr. DeCandido’s level of involvement in managing the properties.

Another issue discussed was the construction of Tiki huts on residential properties without proper permits. At 590 Normandy Road, the property owner, Mr. Vestgard, contested the violation notice, claiming the structure was exempt under the Florida Building Code and arguing it was a playground for his child, and not a permanent fixture requiring a permit. The city representative countered by emphasizing the necessity of a permit to ensure the structure’s appropriate placement. The special magistrate ruled in favor of the city, allowing Mr. Vestgard 90 days to comply, with the option to apply for a variance.

The Tiki hut on John’s Pass Avenue also drew attention due to neighbor complaints about it being an eyesore and causing view obstruction.

One of the more discussions involved Christina Giovenco’s property, where a Tiki hut was erected despite a permit denial from the city’s building department. The denial was based on non-compliance with waterfront property setback requirements. Despite setbacks, Giovenco built the hut, leading to multiple notices from the city. She argued for the community’s need for shade and mentioned a campaign and community meeting participation to address the issue. The special magistrate and the city representative deliberated over the classification of the structure and the possibility of a variance, without reaching a definitive resolution.

The meeting also heard from a resident advocating for changes to code regulations for shade structures, citing a degenerative disability that impacted their quality of life. This resident had taken steps to collaborate with the city, illustrated by an email exchange and photographs submitted as evidence. Despite city objections, the magistrate allowed the evidence into the record. Similarly, Michelle Helms voiced frustration over a neighboring property’s construction, calling for fair and consistent application of city regulations.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
James Rostek
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