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5:29 AM Mon, Oct. 15th

2 short-term rentals OK'd

PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval Wednesday for two short-term vacation rental use permits in the Prescott area.

One short-term rental is located in Groom Creek south of Prescott, and the other is located in Government Canyon on the eastern edge of Prescott.

Neither application had any opposition from neighbors, leading the commission to vote unanimously in favor of both.

However, Prescott Valley resident Robert Gradle expressed opposition to short-term rentals in general. Part of the reason he moved here from Mesa was to get away from a short-term vacation rental next door, he said.

He complained about the noise and parking issues.

He feared that county approval of short-term rental permits will set a bad precedent.

The county's Development Services Department has contacted approximately 60-75 people who are conducting illegal short-term rentals in unincorporated areas without the required use permits, staff estimated. More and more people are apparently doing these kinds of rentals through popular websites such as airbnb and VRBO.

Several people who were contacted have been seeking use permits in recent months.

Wednesday's applicants told county staff they realized they needed permits when they read Daily Courier newspaper articles about previous applications.

The planning commission plans to have another broad discussion about short-term rentals during one of its May meetings.

The Government Canyon rental is the first in the spate of applications that doesn't have the owner living next door.

Mary Ann Beck said she and her brother just bought the Robinson Drive home as an investment property. She lives in Chino Valley and he lives in California.

"We wanted to have a social feeling to our investment," she said of their interest in short-term rentals. "We moved here to be part of the community."

One of the previous owners apparently was conducting short-term rentals of the property without a county use permit. Beck gave the county a copy of a 2015 VRBO rental ad that said the home had been available for rent since 2011.

The Robinson Drive home can house as many as seven visitors.

Joanna "Joey" Gregory said she has been operating her short-term rental in Groom Creek for seven or eight years and had no complaints. The cabin has been owned by her family since 1967, she said. She lives next door.

"We want nice, peaceful quietness as most of the neighbors do there," Gregory said. She will rent to a maximum of six people.

While the two non-transferable permits will last five to six years, county staff will investigate any complaints and conduct permit compliance reviews every two years, Yavapai County Land Use and Planning Division Manager Dave Williams said.

Homeowners don't need county permits to rent homes out for at least 30 days at a time.

If people want to start up a bed and breakfast in their home in unincorporated areas of the county, they need only administrative approvals if their property is at least 35,000 square feet in size.

If it's smaller, they need a use permit that includes public hearings in front of the planning commission and board of supervisors.