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7:33 PM Thu, Sept. 20th

Bill would undo local efforts to restrict short-term rentals

Arizona cities and towns are close to losing their ability to restrict homeowners from renting out their properties on a short-term basis.

Over the objections of city officials and homeowner associations, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-1 on March 14, to bar local governments from restricting the use of vacation rentals or other short-term rentals. SB 1350 covers not just people renting out rooms in their own homes but also those who rent out houses and condo units in which they do not live.

The measure is largely designed to help property owners who advertise their properties on Airbnb and similar services.

“People want local experiences,” Laura Spanjian, lobbyist for Airbnb, said of those who look for rentals through her service. She said there are about 5,000 “hosts” in Arizona who list properties through her company, saying they earn an average of $4,000 a year.

Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels said the legislation would overturn an ordinance in his community that specifically prohibits renting private homes for temporary occupancy because of the potential for increased traffic and noise in residential neighborhoods.

Representatives of other local governments also expressed their objections.

“We are very much concerned about the loss of local control,” Yavapai County Supervisor Rowle Simmons said. “We have pockets and places where people have bought a house and don’t want those activities.”

But Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler, said it’s not like the measure allows any type of home-based business.

“People are going there and truly doing what the structure was truly meant for, which is recreating around inside the house just like a normal homeowner would and sleeping in it,” he said. “I just don’t see how that’s ultimately disruptive.”

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, voted for the bill, but has since walked back that decision, telling The Daily Courier on Monday he’s heard from several opponents of the bill and no longer supports it.

“I can see the county and the towns – they don’t like to be told they can’t pass regulations,” he said.

The measure, which already has been approved by the Senate, now needs a vote of the full House.

It’s currently delayed in the House Rules Committee, though it has already passed the first and second readings on the House floor – meaning if the Rules Committee advances the bill, the House can approve it without suspension of the rules.

Daily Courier reporter Les Bowen contributed to this report.