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Some condo owners facing dilemmas amid COVID-19

Some condos along Front Beach Road sit idle while hotels and motels are able to make...
Some condos along Front Beach Road sit idle while hotels and motels are able to make bookings.(WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: May. 5, 2020 at 7:15 PM CDT
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Hotels and motels may be open for business but vacation rentals are not.

Bay County Commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts, said, “my understanding is that it’s more regulated around interstate commerce, and so the hotels on the interstates and all are used for trucking supplies around the state, and so that’s why hotels were left open.”

Griffitts says there are 17,000 rental units in Panama City Beach, but most are condos and homes. “The rentals on the beach and the visitor spending is critical to the success of Bay County,” said Griffitts.

Condo owner Bob Cabe is personally feeling the financial impacts. “I can’t pay my bills. I have to go into my personal savings to pay the bills,” said Cabe.

He said while some hotels are filling up, his timeshare condo is collecting dust.

Cabe said, “if I put 15 people in here they’d have 200 square feet apiece, this unit is 3,000 square feet. Motels have 200 square feet for four people.”

As part of Phase Two of the governor’s executive order, vacation rentals may open but only for in-state residents to use.

“It’s a lose/lose all around,” said condo owner Bonnie Kirby. She said she was already hurting after Hurricane Michael when her condo was struggling to rent.

Kirby said, “these hotels who have money- they’re just reaping all the benefits of us losing”.

For Kirby, her condo is more than a place, it’s part of her livelihood- “and I wish that people would realize in government that… it’s sad,” she said.

The governor's recovery plan indicates Phase Two will happen when the pandemic reaches a downward trajectory and there's no evidence of a rebound.

We have reached out to both local Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Neal Dunn on the issue who could not give a comment on camera Tuesday, but we will continue to reach out to them in the coming days.

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