Arizona Mayors Band Together in Fight Against Short-Term Rentals

By Melissa Rosequist | Scottsdale Independent

Thirty of Arizona’s mayors banded together in an effort to confront Airbnb and Expedia CEOs about the short-term rental homes they believe are tearing their communities apart.

Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner and Scottsdale Mayor-elect Dave Ortega were among the group.

The move illustrates the growing frustration felt across Arizona cities as cries for change to Gov. Doug Ducey and state legislative leaders have fallen short.

In a Dec. 9, letter, the Arizona mayors ask Airbnb Inc. CEO Brian Chesky and Expedia Group Inc. CEO Peter Kern to end lobbying designed to prevent reform of Senate Bill 1350. Expedia Group is the parent entity behind rental platform VRBO. SB1350 is the 2017 state law restricts local municipalities from regulating short-term rental homes, also known as vacation rentals. As platforms like Airbnb and VRBO grew in popularity, so did complaints to cities from neighborhoods about issues these homes were creating.

In Paradise Valley, Mr. Bien-Willner often compares the situation to unregulated hotels operating within neighborhoods. The Paradise Valley Town Council has had numerous public discussions about short-term rentals, as the town’s quiet, pristine neighborhoods have been greatly effected.

“All of us can provide examples of how SB1350 is causing serious harm to our citizens and our 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 states.

Both Airbnb and VRBO were contacted by email regarding the letter but have not yet responded.

During late 2019 and early 2020, efforts at the Arizona Legislature began gaining traction to make changes to SB1350. An ad-hoc committee was comprised of legislators to gain an understanding of the problems at hand; followed by draft bills seeking bipartisan approval.

The road to amending SB1350 was cut short when COVID-19 hit.

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