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In a record-setting turnout of the Marco Island primary election, the controversial referendum calling to implement a single-family home transient rental registration program passed as 56.9% voted in favor of the ordinance.  

The 17-page referendum, written by political action committee Take Back Marco, applies to those who rent out their homes for less than 30 days more than three times in a year. This will affect a large portion of the island as 25% of single-family homes are used as rentals. 

The ordinance caused a lot of tension between Marco Island homeowners this year, as many think there are multiple violations of privacy within the referendum and claim it is discriminatory against those who rent out their homes.  

The ordinance imposes a set of rules on one group of citizens but not on others,” a statement sent by pro-rental committee Keep Marco Island Free said. “The supporters would not live under these rules themselves, but they want to impose them on others.  This is the very definition of mob rule and discriminatory laws. It is weaponizing our democracy.”  

Marco Island already faces a lawsuit as a result of the ordinance, regarding misleading wording of the referendum, and on the basis of inverse condemnation since homeowners feel their right to have rentals is being wrongfully taken away.  

The ill-conceived nature of this law will devastate the tourism economy, depress housing prices and raise taxes due to the administration of the ordinance and the pending homeowner and business owner lawsuit,” Keep Marco Free Chairperson Alys Macias said in the statement.  

This ballot item brought more than 7,500 Marco Island residents to vote, setting a record for biggest turnout. “Yesterday we witnessed a historic voter turnout for a primary election, which shows just how much people love and care about Marco Island,” said Becky Irwin, Marco Island Councilor. The 2020 general election had just fewer than 6,000 voters from Marco Island. 

What’s next for the ordinance is official certification to verify the results, occurring Aug. 30. Following certification, the ordinance will not be in effect until there have been two public hearings before City Council.  

“Now the real work begins to bring this great community back together and unite us once again, applying the same passion and implementation process of a plan that works for all,” Irwin said. “I hope that moving forward, the city council will work together to help us become neighbors again and to come together as Marco Islanders.”  

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