Fountain Hills Mayor Ginny Dickey has signed on with 32 other Arizona mayors in a letter to Airbnb corporate executives describing issues the communities have with short-term rentals and asking for company help to address concerns.
Dickey said she was asked to sign the letter with other mayors and did so.
“We have experienced some serious disruptions to Fountain Hills neighborhoods, in my opinion, and I look forward to the Legislature making some changes to help our communities,” Dickey said. “I believe Representative (John) Kavanagh (of Fountain Hills) may propose some legislation.”
The letter describes difficulty cities and towns have had working with the Arizona State Legislature in controlling some of the issues raised by short-term rentals.
The letter is being sent to Brian Chesky CEO, Airbnb, Inc., and Peter M. Kern CEO, Expedia Group, Inc.
“Arizona’s state law SB1350 gutted local authority over short-term rentals in Arizona, including the local zoning and enforcement authority that traditionally applied to such activities,” the letter states. “We, the undersigned mayors of cities and towns across the great State of Arizona, are taking the unusual step today of sending this letter to ask that you immediately end lobbying activities designed to prevent reform of this disastrous state law which your industry promoted.
“All of us can provide examples of how SB1350 is causing serious harm to our citizens and neighborhoods, and we are deeply concerned that short-term rentals operating without appropriate local government oversight are causing long-term damage to our communities and the entire state.”
The letter quotes Chesky stating, “We really need to think through our impact on cities and communities.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chesky, we agree,” the mayors state. “But your industry’s actions in Arizona are inconsistent with this stated concern.”
The letter goes on to cite specific examples of difficulties and hardships municipalities are having with short-term rentals, which include:
*Once peaceful neighborhoods suffer from unsupervised groups coming in and out for daily stays, which include unruly, disruptive and noisy large gatherings.
*Neighborhoods are experiencing dangerous criminal activity from short-term rental properties, including shootings, sexual and physical assaults, and the use of short-term rental properties as locations and staging places for other criminal activity (over the summer, looting and rioting).
*Affordable housing stocks are being gobbled up by investors who are focused on short-term commercial uses of their properties, rather than neighborhood stability and prosperity.
*Hotels and resorts, which provide jobs for our citizens and a tax base for our communities, face unfair competition under the current Arizona law while they follow a different, more responsible, set of rules.
*As bars and restaurants have been in limited service during the pandemic, short-term rentals have emerged as alternative venues. Many have hosted unsafe and unwelcome parties for hundreds of people during the closures. Cleaning standards are not uniform, if there is recommended cleaning at all, and there typically are no responsible owners present.
*The State of Arizona doesn’t have the interest to monitor and identify short-term rental “hosts.” Local communities experience hosts avoiding required local registration, platform fees, and taxes by booking “off-line.” Local government cannot currently partner with you effectively on this mutual issue.
*Some communities have seen over half of citizen police calls relate to problems with short-term rentals. This is a direct result of our local communities’ inability to enact and enforce responsible regulations.
“Your current Arizona business model is unsustainable,” the letter states. “Until the law returns local control of short-term rentals to locally accountable elected officials, the demand from our citizens for reform will continue to amplify and become a business disruption that cannot be ignored, perhaps with unintended consequences for your companies’ larger aspirations.
“We also believe that allowing local leaders to manage activities in their communities is the wise and business-savvy approach to creating a sustainable short-term rental industry. All we ask is that you end your efforts to block Arizona’s needed return to local standards governing your activities in neighborhood areas.”