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8:23 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Vacation rentals, sober-living homes top Prescott council meeting Oct. 11

PRESCOTT – Changes in the way the city handles vacation rentals and sober-living homes will go to the Prescott City Council this week in a busy day of meetings overseen by new City Manager Michael Lamar.

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Michael Lamar is pictured in this photo from 2016. He was sworn in as Prescott's city manager in 2017. According to Lamar, city staff will present a preliminary budget to the City Council Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

The council will conduct a study session at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and a voting session at 3 p.m. Both meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Lamar is scheduled to start his job as Prescott City Manager on Monday, Oct. 10, and the Tuesday meetings will be his first as manager.

The 1 p.m. study session will include a presentation on a proposed change for residential vacation rentals.

A city memo explains that while the current city code prohibits short-term rentals in residential zones, a new Arizona state law prevents cities and towns from imposing such bans.

In preparation for the law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, the council will consider three proposed ordinances in the near future, according to the city memo. The first proposes changing the city code to allow for short-term rentals in residential zones, while the second will involve a revision to the building code to require building safety and fire inspections of vacation rental before issuance of permits and licenses. The third would require operational regulations and performance standards for the short-term rentals.

If adopted, the changes will require the owner/operator of a vacation rental to obtain an annual registration certificate from the city, in addition to obtaining a business license and a sales tax (transaction privilege tax) license.

According to a recent estimate by an outside vendor, 165 vacation rentals currently exist in Prescott. Because the rentals are short-term, they would be subject to both sales tax and city bed tax, the memo stated.

During its 3 p.m. voting session, the council will consider:

• Adoption of the long-discussed city ordinance regulating structured sober-living homes.

For months, the City Council has discussed how best to regulate the 100 or so structured sober-living homes estimated to be operating within Prescott city limits.

Among other things, the proposed ordinance would: Set standards for training, criminal background, and education of the managers of the houses; require existing homes to apply for a license within 60 days of the effective date of the ordinance; require basic address, employee, and operational information about the home; and require an discharge-planning strategy for residents of the home.

In addition, the revised ordinance reflects the direction on 24-hour-awake staff that council members issued when the draft ordinance was previously discussed in September.

While the previous draft included alternatives, such as alarm systems, to having a house manager awake at all times, the majority of council members appeared to support eliminating those alternatives.

The draft that the council will consider this week reads: “The structured sober-living home shall have one or more house managers at the home, at least one of whom is present and awake at all times when the residents are present at the structured sober-living home who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the structured sober-living home.”

The draft ordinance also requires that: All residents, other than the house manager, actively participate in recovery programs; assurance that all residents have access to meals at the home; and a protocol to prevent locking residents out of the home, unless the residents are at work or engaged in some other activity outside the home.

The proposed city ordinance aims to follow through on the state law that became effective in August, allowing cities, towns, and counties to more strictly regulate structured sober-living homes.

• Consider formalizing and continuing the city’s participation and membership in the Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP) by approving the fiscal-year 2017 contract, as well as the city’s $40,000 dues.

A city memo notes that local public and private sectors “came together to form GPREP for the purpose of promoting the region’s economic health.”

Public-sector members include Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, and Yavapai County. In addition, more than 20 businesses comprise the private-sector membership.

At previous council meetings, questions have arisen about GPREP’s accomplishments. The city memo lists a number of accomplished tasks, such as initiation of an email campaign to companies and site-selection firms in Los Angeles, a direct-sales mission to the San Fernando Valley, attendance at a manufacturing technology show in Chicago to meet with exhibitors and site-selection firms, and initiation of a strategic-planning process.