News & Updates

Is There a Lack of Livability Enforcement on Isle of Palms?

Posted: September 18, 2023

On November 7th, 2023, there will be a short-term rental cap referendum on the Isle of Palms ballot. The referendum found here will impose short-term rental restrictions on all properties across the island, including residential homes, condos, multi-family dwellings, and hotel rooms. The referendum will also prevent the transferability of the license through the sale of the property.

One of the driving factors behind the implementation of the referendum is the common misconception that rental properties cause more problems with noise, trash, and traffic. Police Chief Cornett, Livability Officer Jace Kowsky, and Assistant-City Administrator Douglas Kerr discussed these issues with the members of the Planning Commission at their July meeting, and here are some facts about livability violations and enforcement on Isle of Palms we thought you should know.

Livability Enforcement Efforts

Anyone in the Isle of Palms community with an issue with livability can quickly contact the livability hotline at 843-886-6522, 24 hours a day, to report problems with noise, debris, short and long-term rentals, occupancy violations, vehicle violations, and many other violations. 

In response to citizen concerns, the Isle of Palms Police Department hired an additional Livability officer to meet the needs of the residents. Having two livability officers on duty (one daytime and one nighttime shift) allows livability to respond quicker to citizens’ concerns. 

Violation Numbers for Isle of Palms 2023

It is a fact that residents on the Isle of Palms receive just as many noise complaints as short-term rental guests. The graph below shows the total number of livability complaints received so far on the Isle of Palms in 2023:

Here is a breakdown of noise complaints by residence type:


STRs: 79

Residents: 72


STRs: 107

Residents: 106

While we are confident that not every livability call was a “founded” complaint with the police department, it is clear that short-term rentals are not the sole cause of excessive noise violations or livability complaints on Isle of Palms, as is commonly thought.

Comments from Police Chief Kevin Cornett

During the July City Council Meeting, Police Chief Kevin Cornett spoke about livability complaints his department has received in 2023 on Isle of Palms. Here are a few of his quotes from the meeting:

“There is a conversation that there are all of these STR notice violations…(but) they simply don’t come, not to the extreme that I was led to believe.”

“There is also a conversation that there were a lot of other building calls, but when we pull our dispatch notes, that is simply not the case.”

Chief Cornett also commented on proactive rental companies:

“(Rental companies are) very proactive working with us, very responsive. When we have had an issue, we call them and they immediately take action.” 

5 Livability Complaints in June Out of 1200 Calls

According to the Isle of Palms livability officer, only five livability complaints were made out of 1,200 calls to the IOP PD in June. He also stated that: 

  • In June, there was one noise complaint filed
  • There have been zero occupancy violation in 2023 on Isle of Palms

Are STRs to Blame?

Residents of Isle of Palms should continue to call the livability hotline to report any violations they see throughout the year. It is essential to be proactive so that livability officers can do their job and preserve the Isle of Palms for all residents and visitors. 

You will decide whether or not to cap short-term rental licenses on November 7th. But before you make up your mind, knowing what you do now about livability violations on Isle of Palms, ask yourself, are STRs to blame?