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Sanibel issues restrictions on rentals, alcohol and more

By Staff | Mar 30, 2020

UPDATE: The Sanibel City Council’s special meeting scheduled for April 1 has been canceled. The council will meet next on April 7 at 9 a.m.

During two special meetings last week held days apart, the Sanibel City Council extended its local state of emergency and issued proclamations related to limiting rentals, alcohol consumption and more.

The council gathered on March 25 for its weekly meeting in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, followed by a second meeting on March 27. At the first one, the council approved extending its state of emergency for seven days, as well as debated and supported the following proclamations:

– Prohibition of alcohol sales for on-premises consumption.

Consistent with the governor’s executive order, vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages by the drink or in sealed containers for consumption on the premises.

“Sell” or “selling” for the purposes of the proclamation means provide-irrespective of monetary or other consideration provided or not provided in exchange for the alcoholic beverage.

“Premises” for the purpose of the proclamation means not only the actual premises where the point of sale occurred, but also any public or common areas within any resort, hotel, motel or other place of public accommodation operated in common or connection with the actual premises where the point of sale occurred.

– Sanibel Island Farmers Market restrictions.

The farmer’s market operated on city property is hereby restricted from selling any non-food items.

– Restriction on property rentals.

Effective March 29 and concluding April 30, any place of public accommodation for lodging, including any resort housing, inn, hotel, motel or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, or any “unlimited rental” as defined by the Sanibel Code is prohibited from making or accepting reservations for lodging rentals of less than seven consecutive days.

Nothing herein shall act to reduce the minimum duration restrictions of any place of public accommodation for lodging or any “limited rental” as defined by the Sanibel Code.

However, the council agreed to put stronger limitations in place on rentals at its March 27 meeting.

According to the language of the updated proclamation:

– All “unlimited rentals” as defined by the Sanibel Code (whether a single-family home, condominium, timeshare or otherwise) and any other place of public accommodation for lodging, including any resort housing, inn, hotel, motel or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, are ordered to cancel all existing reservations and refrain from accepting new guests or making new reservations for stays for the booking period commencing at 12:01 a.m. March 28 through 11:59 p.m. April 24. Any guests of such accommodations who are checked in as of March 27 are permitted to remain for the duration of their stay. The prohibition does not affect the ability of an owner of a condominium, timeshare or any other property which is periodically rented to third parties from staying in his or her own property for some or all of the restricted period.

As a result of the March 27 meeting, the following proclamations also went into effect:

– Effective immediately, the playground at the Sanibel Community Park, at 2221 Periwinkle Way, is temporarily closed until further notice. The remainder of the park remains open.

– Effective March 28, the following public parking lots are temporarily closed until further notice: Community Park parking lot, Pond Apple Park Trailhead, chamber Visitor Center parking lot, Sanibel Recreation Center parking lot and roadside parking lot.

Between the two meetings, dozens of written comments from the public were read into the record. Most were split between the opinion of shut down the island completely, to keep it open for business.

At the March 27 meeting, council debated a draft resolution from Lee County that would close all “non-essential” business. County commissioners were expected to take up the proposal at a March 30 meeting and council discussed whether to approve it with adjustments to stay ahead of the ball.

A motion to approve it died in a 1-4 vote, with Councilmember Jason Maughan voting in favor.

The city council is expected to meet again on April 1 at 9 a.m.

To access the meeting, visit mysanibel.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.