Opinion

Hunter: Short-term rentals have very few violations, that’s the problem

Posted 5/19/21

Scottsdale recently established a working group to “examine existing laws and tools available to the city of Scottsdale regarding short-term rentals.”

Basically, since the state …

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Opinion

Hunter: Short-term rentals have very few violations, that’s the problem

Posted

Scottsdale recently established a working group to “examine existing laws and tools available to the city of Scottsdale regarding short-term rentals.”

Basically, since the state legislature didn’t address any of the problems with STRs this past session, towns and cities are now working on solutions of their own. Their efforts are certainly welcome.

May 5 was the second meeting for the working group and it was open for public comment on STRs. This is definitely a “hot button” issue since comments ran to 130 pages. Here is a link so you can see the comments yourself and get a sense of where people stand: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/assets/asset85170.aspx

There were a few duplications, but my count is: seven “pro STR” comments (including five from owner/operators), four are “neutral” and 44 are “against STRs”.

It really breaks down to five operators who think STRs are great because they can make big money running them, and almost everyone else (80%) with stories of nuisance, nightmares and disruption to their home, family and neighborhood from STRs.

Read the room — unless you are one of the few investors cashing in, people hate having STRs in the neighborhood. There is an obscene imbalance between who profits and who pays the price.

One comment from an owner/operator was that “violations rarely occur at STRs,” happening only 0.1% of the time. This implies things are just peachy keen with STRs, nothing to see here.

But too few violations is exactly the problem. State laws have severely hobbled and handicapped what local jurisdictions can do in terms of enforcement.

State law still prohibits towns and cities from regulating STRs, preventing enforcement and encouraging the chaos to fester.

State law still requires regulations for actual homeowners to be exactly the same as for short-term transients. This defies common sense since people obviously behave differently on a vacation than they do at home.

It also prevents easy, common sense solutions that would allow stronger enforcement for noise, parking and particularly the overcrowding problems at STRs.

Almost 80% of STRs are unregistered in Scottsdale so reported violations are grossly understated. (However, recent numbers from the working group show STRs that are actually registered cause violations at 200 times the rate of actual residents.)

The “verified violation” process is intentionally cumbersome for enforcement. And the sudden intrusion of thousands of unstaffed STRs has created a huge new unfunded enforcement burden on the city.

Looking at the public comments on STRs shows more and stronger enforcement is clearly needed to address the blight of STRs. The state should take the handcuffs off and reinstate local zoning so communities could regulate STRs according to their own needs and standards. Recognize STRs need to be regulated differently than homeowners.

Allow fines to reach meaningful amounts. End STRs freeloading on city services by taxing them accordingly. And by all means follow the Scottsdale working group’s efforts and let your elected representatives at the state and local levels know how you feel about STRs.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Hunter, a Paradise Valley resident, lives between two short-term rentals and hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in over a year.

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