Last month, Arizona lawmakers had an opportunity to support legislation that would have made it easier for local cities to address nuisance short-term rental properties that have been the cause of parties and neighborhood complaints.
For the better half of this year, leaders from Paradise Valley and other cities wrote spirited opinion pieces and conducted interviews with outlets across the state to highlight how bad the problem had gotten in their communities.
It is hard to reconcile these calls for solutions with the efforts made by these same voices last month to kill legislation that would have addressed these very concerns.
A proposal introduced by Senator J.D. Mesnard would have allowed cities to impose escalating fines, increase penalties for failing to register a contact person with local authorities, and suspend a short-term rental operator’s tax license in order to target the bad apples who give the broader short-term rental community a bad name.
The proposal was a direct response to the calls from many local jurisdictions looking for ways to address nuisance properties in their neighborhoods. And yet, despite these provisions, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns led lobbying efforts to derail the legislation. In a 17-43 vote, the bill failed to pass the House.
The bill’s failure is disappointing, but it confirms what many short-term rental hosts have feared all along: the calls for additional regulations are not centered on meaningful solutions, but rather a concerted effort to enact new laws that would make it easier for some cities to ban short-term rentals altogether.
As we look to the future, advocates of additional short-term rental regulations must be honest with Arizona residents about their intentions. Cities need tools to address nuisance properties, but these efforts should not be used as a Trojan Horse by certain communities to do away with short-term rentals entirely.
Enacting legislation that allows cities to outright ban short-term rentals would violate the property rights of Arizona residents, take money out of the pockets of homeowners who rely on the income, and make it harder for our state to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism is Arizona’s number one export industry, and helped generate nearly $3.8 billion in tax revenue and $25.6 billion in direct spending in 2019, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. As travel slowly rebounds, the state will need a diverse array of accommodations, including short-term rentals, to attract travelers.
Now more than ever, short-term rentals deliver what travelers are looking for: private homes that offer guests more space and control, and without the hassle of densely-populated tourist and hotel districts.
The bottom line is simple: we can adopt fair rules that address the small minority of bad short-term rental actors and protect the benefits these provide to our economy and the Arizona residents who rely on them to supplement their income.
Editor’s Note: Linda Curry lives in Mesa and owns a short-term rental in the same community. April Towle lives in Phoenix and owns a short-term rental in Williams.