Ruling: Guesthouses are for family, not rental tenants

The county does not want owners of guesthouses in residential districts to rent them out.

That message came through loud and clear at Tuesday's Yavapai County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Charles and Viola Reyes, who live in the Williamson Valley, asked the supervisors for a use permit to let them rent the guesthouse on their 1.21-acre parcel, allow reduction of the setbacks and let the 990-square-foot guesthouse exceed the 750-square-foot maximum.

"Renting out the guesthouse helps us out financially, because we're both retired," she said.

Elise Link, planning manager, said that on Aug. 6 the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the use permit allowing the existing 990-square-foot guesthouse to remain and for reduced setbacks.

However, the planners rejected the Reyes' use of the guesthouse as a rental unit.

Link said she received one letter against permitting the guesthouse to become a rental unit because it is in the Prescott Active Management Area and it would set a precedent.

She said the county ordinance permits a guesthouse for use by non-paying guests or relatives, but does not permit renting it.

The Reyes built the guesthouse and garage without getting any permits.

Supervisor Tom Thurman said an aerial photo of the property indicates a problem with setbacks. It appears the guesthouse and garage are on the neighbor's property.

Viola Reyes said a county inspector said the garage and guest house are entirely on their property. She said they are getting all the required permits for the two buildings.

Thurman said on a property the size of the Reyes', the guesthouse is for members of the family or friends in need. He said the county never meant for people to rent it.

The supervisors then approved the use permit as the planners recommended. But they did not approve renting the guesthouse.

With that ruling, county residents must adhere to the county ordinance and not rent guest houses out.

Ken Spedding, Development Services director, said his department will work with the Reyes so they do not encounter any hardships turning their guesthouse back into a non-rental.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Approved the establishment of the Weaver Mountain Domestic Wastewater Improvement District in the Congress area.

• Amended a planning and zoning ordinance allowing use of RVs and travel trailers as a secondary medical dwelling.

• Amended a planning and zoning ordinance to allow guesthouses to have their own utilities.

• Amended a planning and zoning ordinance to require trash containers to have a cover so trash will not blow out of the containers.

• Approved changing the zoning from residential to commercial, general sales and services so Deborah Butitta can build a 1,400-square-foot addition to a 7,500-square-foot pre-existing bar and grill on a half-acre site in the Forbing Park area.

• Approved a $750,000 settlement with Carson Construction Co. that stems from work it did on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service roads in the county that floods damaged in 2005. Thurman said the Federal Emergency Management Agency required the county to bid the work, so it withheld its $680,000 payment when it determined Carson Construction Co. did not do an environmental impact study on one rock pit. The county now is appealing to FEMA to get reimbursed for at least the $680,000.

• Approved Joyce Weldon's request for a use permit and minor community plan amendment to permit industrial uses like welding, equipment repair and maintenance, and outside storage of heavy construction materials and equipment on a .57-acre parcel in a commercial district.

Contact the reporter at jeherrmann@prescottaz.com