Monday, September 12, 2022

Council Begins Tackling the "STR" Challenge

Oro Valley has no short term vacation rental regulations
There are three hundred Oro Valley Short Term Vacation Rentals ("STR") listed on AirBnb. There are 300 listed on VRBO.  None of these rentals are regulated in any way by the Town of Oro Valley.

Yet, their existence is a challenge to the community in terms if their use.

What's the problem?
Imagine that you are awoken with noise that is coming from the house next door. "There's a party going on right here. A celebration to last a year."  Seems like someone is hosting an event. You call the police. They are busy with important public safety calls. The party goes on. The cops arrive but there isn't much they can do except to discuss the "noise ordinance."

You have no recourse. It's not the property owner that is hosting the event. In fact, the property owner may never even be in residence. It's people who have rented the property for a few days. 

You ponder: This is Oro Valley. Certainly, there must be some regulation regarding who can rent a property in the short term and how it can be used.

Not in Oro Valley. 

The town has no STR regulations.

Council got a "wake up" call
Several weeks ago, members of the council attended the Arizona League of Cities and Towns 2022 annual conference where STR were discussed in one of the breakout sessions. The panelists discussed "challenges, wins, and key takeaways from their experience in attempting to mitigate STR impacts on communities. "

The town council attendees heard some troubling stories of "party houses", non residential rental uses and health assistance problems related to an STR. They heard what Paradise Valley and Scottsdale have done to mitigate the STR challenge. 

Council Member Greene noted at last week's council meeting that several of the town's HOA's have reached out for guidance. "More and more properties are going this route in our neighborhoods... renters are not following HOA regulations" and there is no way to 'force them to do so.

Town staff has been working on this challenge...  fees and taxes on the horizon
According to Oro Valley Town Manager Jacobs, "The Arizona League of Cities and Towns coordinated a group of city/town attorneys across the state to review the new legislation and develop a model ordinance for communities to have as they consider any changes to their own ordinances regarding short term rentals." Deputy Oro Valley Town Attorney Joe Andrews is part of that group.

The town has also posted notice of an intent to impose fees and taxes and regulations on STR. These will be discussed at the November 16 regular session of the town council.

Council directs staff: Develop maximum legally enforceable rules
The Council directed Town Manager town staff do develop "maximum legally supportable STR regulations". The town can do so because of a new law that expands what a town is allowed to regulate. The law (SB 1168) amends an existing law (A.R.S.§9-500.39) to convey to towns and cities who choose to regulate STR the following general regulatory powers in addition to existing powers:
  • To require rental property owners to obtain and maintain a local regulatory permit 
  • To require rental property owners to meet specific criteria to obtain the permit
  • To assess civil penalties against rental property owners for verified violations of local vacation and short-term rental regulations
  • To revoke for one year, short-term rental licenses or permits under certain circumstances
  • Separate Judicial relief may be sought only for attempted or completed felonies on the property resulting in death or serious injury (Source)
There is much the town can do
... and it goes far beyond simply requiring an STR to obtain a permit. For example, the town can enact an ordinance that protects public health and safety. The Paradise Valley STR ordinance restricts use of the property to that which would be normally expected in the neighborhood. In Paradise Valley, STR "are prohibited from housing sex offenders, operating sober living homes, selling illegal drugs or liquor, having nude or topless dancing and having other adult-oriented businesses." (Source) Their ordinance promotes safety by requiring that the rental have a land line and liability insurance. 

In Sedona, an STR can only be used for residential use. Scottsdale requires that "Any person designated as a vacation or short-term rental’s emergency contact must respond in-person to the property within one hour of the city’s notification in the event of an emergency." (Source

The challenge extends to public safety and public health
The challenge includes the need to build up public safety resources to deal with resident STR complaints. "Scottsdale Police will be rolling out a short-term rental unit later this year. The new unit will consist of four police officers and a sergeant. These officers will be trained in the requirements for short-term rentals within the City of Scottsdale and will coordinate closely with Code Enforcement and the City Prosecutor’s Office." (Source)  

At the council meeting, Council Member Harry Green noted that there are also emergency service challenges presented by people who are not resident in the community and become a service challenge if a health issue occurs.

Developing an STR ordinance is going to take time and legal expertise. LOVE will keep you posted as things develop.
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