Mayor-Elect Ortega: Scottsdale ‘Shattered’ by Short-Term Rentals

By Melissa Rosequist | Scottsdale Independent

Days have gone by since more than 30 Arizona mayors signed a letter urging short-term rental platform CEOs to end lobbying efforts against legislation change — a move that gained no more than crickets in response.

Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner, one of 33 officials to sign on to the cause, says the fight for meaningful reform when it comes to short-term rentals will continue until change occurs.

“I have not to date seen a response from the industry,” Mr. Bien-Willner said.

“We’re hoping for action — positive action, that’s our goal. We’re certainly always willing to listen to others, engage in dialogue. But just to be clear, there has been dialogue ongoing with representatives of those companies for well over a year with really no progress, and there had been dialogue leading up to the letter explaining this was a critical issue.”

Mr. Bien-Willner says a joint approach with collaboration from both the industry and the policy makers is necessary to get something “that would work and be durable.”

“My takeaway is that they disagreed with that approach,” Mr. Bien-Willner said.

Both Airbnb and VRBO were contacted by email regarding the letter but did not respond as of press time.

In a Dec. 9 letter, the Arizona mayors asked Airbnb Inc. CEO Brian Chesky and Expedia Group Inc. CEO Peter Kern, head of the parent company behind rental platform VRBO, to end lobbying designed to prevent reform of Senate Bill 1350, the 2017 state law that restricts cities and towns from regulating short-term rentals.

As platforms like Airbnb and VRBO grew in popularity, so did complaints to cities from neighborhoods about issues these homes were creating. But state law curbs cities and towns from doing anything to restrict short-term rentals.

“The letter which I signed has been in the works for some time. Mayors and city councils in all Arizona cities deal with negative repercussions every day,” Scottsdale mayor-elect David Ortega said in an email to the Independent.

“Scottsdale neighborhood life has been shattered by STRs. There are over 4,550 STRs in Scottsdale. More than in Phoenix or Tucson. Sales taxes collected [by STRs] in Scottsdale are directed to the Arizona Department of Revenue; are held and less than half is returned to Scottsdale because tax revenue sharing is based on population, not origin. Again shorting the City of Scottsdale.” – Mayor-Elect David Ortega

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