Why state lawmakers should stay out of local zoning laws

During my time on the City of Sierra Vista planning & zoning commission I was skeptical of changes to zoning and building code amendments that made it much easier to build an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU) in a single family residential zone.  An Auxiliary Dwelling Unit is a fancy term for what we used to call an "in-law unit", a separate living space for a family member.  Now there is a movement to rent these units out as short-term rentals.  I opposed allowing the ADU to have a separate mailing address and utility meter because I thought this could potentially change the nature of a neighborhood zoned for single family residences into a multi-family area or even a neighborhood with various short-term rental listed on the internet at such sites as AirBnb.com and VBRO.com.  This could create a hotel next door with new people coming into the neighborhood every day.  At no time was I opposed to allowing the primary residence to be used for short-term rentals.  However I do believe that the city should regulate these businesses.  At a minimum cities should require a business license for run a short-term rental in a residential zone.  Sierra Vista does not require a business license.

Unfortunately in 2016 the Arizona legislature lead by Republicans, with the approval and encouragement of Governor Ducey, passed SB1350 which preempted cities' ability to regulate short-term rentals.  By doing so, the state took away one of the fundamental powers of local governments to create communities that reflect the desires of their residents.  After an explosion of short-term rentals conversions from long term rental housing, vociferous complaints from residents adversely affected by dramatic increases in traffic, parking and crime in their neighborhoods in cities such as Sedona Arizona, some cities are pushing back.

In fact even some Republicans are rethinking the original legislation indicating that they didn't see all the potential issues.   The governor is open to "minor changes."

This is why state should stay out of local zoning issues and let those elected to run their communities to do just that!  If elected to the Arizona State Senate I will immediately introduce a bill to repeal SB1350 and if that fails, to work to change the existing legislation to give back control of regulation to the local government.  A potential compromise is to limit the number of days in 12 month period that can property can be rented for less than 30 days.

Bisbee, Arizona is considering limits on vacation rentals although this may land in court.  Read more about it in the Herald/Review.

Abe Kwok writes an opinion column in the Arizona Republic that covers much of what I have discussed above but adds some additional thoughts to the conversation.

Another view from the Benson Sun News.

Update 12.27/19:  According to a Herald/Review editorial, proposed legislation for the upcoming session of the Arizona legislature would define the difference between short-term rentals and commercial properties for taxing purposes.  I don't agree with using taxing as a way to solve this problem.  However as the Herald editorial stated "This reform of the 2016 law is only necessary because state legislators got a bit too anxious to impose their authority on local governments."

Not only will I introduce a bill to repeal SB1350, I will not vote to preempt local government authority, specifically for zoning ordinances.



Posted in Ideas/Opinion, Issues.

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