One more swipe at the state legislature

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In a previous blog I shared how the state legislature mandates fiscal policies that often harm cities. This issue is more nuanced. It is the issue of short-term rentals. In fact, the Arizona Republic has a front page story today about this very subject.

Two years ago, Debbie Lesko, now a congressional representative for Glendale and the surrounding area, sponsored a bill which became known as the “AirBnB Bill.  Governor Doug Ducey signed it into law. The original intent was give property owners the ability to rent out a bedroom as a way of making extra money.

Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for as there are often unintended consequences. This bill has delivered more consequences than anticipated. What has occurred is far different from the bill’s original intent. In places like Sedona investors are buying homes or building new ones and turning them into mini-hotels. This action is unsustainable and destabilizing. One consequence has been to reduce the amount of available long-term rentals for those who work in a community. It has also reduced school age populations as long-term renters with families are frozen out of the market in favor of short-term, far more lucrative rentals.

This turn of events has hit Arizona’s major tourist destinations the hardest but it has also set up every city in the metropolitan area to become a victim during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Final Four and major NASCAR races. Homeowners from all over the state are now complaining about issues such as increased traffic and noise in their once quiet neighborhoods.

A bill sponsored by Representative John Kavanaugh passed through the legislature this year. It was designed to deal with these very issues but a funny thing happened on its way to passage by the state legislature…it was emasculated. The very restrictions on investor-owned rentals and limiting the number of guests per rental that would have alleviated the situation were stripped from the bill.

No doubt this is a difficult question. At what point do rental properties diminish existent homeowners’ quality of life? How are we to balance a property owner’s right to do what he or she wishes to do with the property against quality of life issues for nearby residents leading to a loss of their property value? Who prevails and how? Perhaps the state legislature’s passage of the original Air BnB Bill mandating how cities can regulate short-term rentals within their communities was ill advised. After all, Arizona is the only state in the Union to have imposed this mandate on cities. We should wonder why no other state has messed with this issue. Sometimes local control is the best control.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         


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