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Lawmakers reject effort to allow Arizona cities to regulate short-term rentals
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Lawmakers reject effort to allow Arizona cities to regulate short-term rentals

In 2016, legislators, lobbied by Airbnb and other home-sharing apps, stripped cities of any right to regulate these vacation rentals.

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A bill allowing cities to regulate short-term vacation rentals was defeated in the Arizona Legislature.

PHOENIX — State lawmakers quashed the last remaining measure to rein in short-term vacation rentals Thursday, concluding that it did so little as to not be worth the effort.

SB 1379 would have allowed communities to impose fines on owners who fail to provide information for police and others to contact them if there are problems with the tenants.

It also would let them mandate owners maintain minimum liability insurance.

A bobcat kitten found a snake and couldn't resist a tussle. The bobcat appeared to be one that was born in the yard several months ago. Video by Eric Schaffer.

Potentially most significant, it would have meant an owner would lose a state license to do business following three violations of local ordinances within three months.

Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, said those that could include things like noise or other violations.

And that, he said, would allow cities to address the problem of “party houses” popping up in residential neighborhoods.

But most of his colleagues were unconvinced, voting 43-17 to kill what Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Scottsdale, called a “Band-Aid” fix to a much more complex problem.

With no more committees set to meet this session, Thursday’s vote could end efforts this year to fix problems that were first created in 2016 when legislators, lobbied by Airbnb and other home-sharing apps, stripped cities of any right to regulate these vacation rentals.

The measure was sold to lawmakers as allowing individuals to rent out a spare room to make a bit of extra cash. In fact, that’s how Airbnb got its name, the idea being an air mattress set up for a guest.

But the reality turned out to be something quite different.

In some communities, homes and apartments in entire areas have been bought up by investors to be converted into these short-term rentals, drying up the availability of housing for local residents.

“The worst-case scenario, of course, is in Sedona,” Kavanagh said, where there had been testimony at hearings that up to 40% of residential rental properties are now vacation rentals. “It’s even happening in my district in downtown Scottsdale.”

And then there’s the question of how many individuals can be crowded into one of what amount to de facto unstaffed hotels.

“Everyone understands and appreciates the right of anyone to make money and to start a business and have a business flourish,” said Rep. Aaron Lieberman, D-Paradise Valley.

“When they’re doing it right next to your house and running a hotel in a residential neighborhood, that’s no longer their right to run a business,” he said. “That’s taking away your right to your home.”

But Weninger said those aren’t the complaints about short-term rentals that are coming in.

“What they’re emailing us about and contacting us about is party houses,” he said. And Weninger said SB 1379 would have given communities sufficient “autonomy” to deal with them.

On Twitter: @azcapmedia


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