Communities must confront short term rentals

Posted 8/7/20

What can cities do to halt the general disruption in our neighborhoods, overstuffed trash receptacles and misused recycling containers?

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Communities must confront short term rentals

Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia

Last week, another shooting at a Scottsdale short-term rental; the looting at Fashion Square was planned and staged from a nearby STR; often seen, occupants at STRs jumping off patio roofs into pools. What can cities do to halt the general disruption in our neighborhoods, overstuffed trash receptacles and misused recycling containers?

All of the above are intolerable in our family-friendly neighborhoods. Near my house are four short-term rentals, excess cars on the street, the occasional long limo and six-passenger beer buggy.

On the way to Pueblo Elementary, kids have to walk the gauntlet between two corner short-term rentals. Next to one STR lives a family with four young daughters. Unacceptable.

Scottsdale zoning was 96% residential and 4% commercial, excluding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Along came 7,000 short-term rentals and changed the ratio to 7% commercial and 93% residential use. All done without City Council rezoning action.

STR encroachment is hurting our city and adding COVID-19 contact concerns.

Our hospitality industry abides by strict training, monitoring and disposal of personal protection items, but the STRs I see have no such discipline. What can be done?

When I held office, we instituted the most basic, constitutional prerogative, local control on distancing. At that time, through public hearings, we were able to define, study and adopt acceptable distancing rules for massage parlors and tattoo shops.

Similarly, in 2016, the council examined medical marijuana dispensary proximity to schools, churches and parks. There is a legal process, which is upheld in courts, allowing home rule.

0The Arizona Legislature took away local control of short-term-rentals in favor of the special interests STR consortiums. Until the Legislature becomes more resident friendly, Scottsdale must lead and marshal municipal allies to reclaim our neighborhoods.

There is enough evidence of the nuisance factors, poor management, burden on our police and code enforcement to justify city regulation on distancing. Short-term rentals should pay commercial property tax and abide by sanitary and nuisance rules. The council did increase fines imposed on STR violators.

But the intrinsic ability of Scottsdale to mitigate the problems should be tested.

I am the only candidate for mayor to ask for an end to proliferation of short-term rentals. It is time for Scottsdale to test our constitutional rights. As the next mayor of Scottsdale, I will make City Hall more assertive, so that short-term-rentals can coexist without overwhelming us.

Distancing is the first step.

David Ortega was a candidate for Scottsdale mayor in the Aug. 4 primary election. Among a field of five candidates, he currently leads by fewer than 350 votes, based on preliminary reporting from the County Recorder’s Office as of late Wednesday. Visit for up-to-date elections coverage.