Short-Term Rental Platforms Support New Arizona Bill

By Melissa Rosequist | Scottsdale Independent

A new bill addressing short-term rental properties has garnered support from the two dominant rental platforms — but not the full support of Paradise Valley’s mayor — as it takes initial steps through the Arizona Legislature.

“We and other municipalities registered in opposition to this bill primarily because there are other bills currently advancing in the state Legislature that would go further towards our goal of restoring effective local oversight on short-term rental activities in our town,” said Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner of Senate Bill 1379.

SB 1379 was introduced by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, and received unanimous approval from a nine-member Senate Commerce Committee on Feb. 3.

Arizona legislators have introduced more than one bill in an attempt to curb issues emanating from Arizona neighborhoods most effected by short-term rentals. In December, more than 30 Arizona mayors signed a letter asking Airbnb and Expedia Group 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 such as Airbnb and VRBO grew in popularity, so did neighborhood complaints about issues short-term rental homes were creating. But state law blocks cities and towns from doing anything to restrict short-term rentals.

The new bill introduced by Sen. Mesnard would modify the list of regulations counties and municipalities are allowed to impose on short-term and vacation rentals. These regulations include:

  • Fines: Allows cities to impose financial penalties on hosts who do not register and provide contact information with local jurisdictions as required by state law;
  • Penalties: Authorizes local jurisdictions to increase penalties on hosts for health and safety violations;
  • “Three strikes” penalty: Empowers the state to revoke the transaction privilege tax license from hosts who have three adjudicated health and safety violations at the same listing within a 12-month period
  • Occupancy: Restrictions establishing occupancy limits in listings of up to two adults per bedroom;
  • Insurance: Requires hosts provide insurance to guests, or have platform provide it.

Prior to the hearing, Mr. Bien-Willner recorded an “against” position on for SB 1379, the Legislature website shows; as did the town’s paid lobbyist Doug Cole of HighGround Public Affairs, the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and the Goldwater Institute. Mr. Bien-Willner spoke at the Feb. 3 hearing.

“Overall, even though we are a small town facing off with large and very powerful corporate interests, it is good that our voices are making a difference — and I was privileged to advocate, once again, for our town at today’s legislative hearing,” said Mr. Bien-Willner. “While Sen. Mesnard’s bill does not currently authorize certain established tools to curtail problems in neighborhoods that we and many other communities would like to see, it is superior to the status quo. We are excited to see how this bill and the bills that go further for the town — but have not yet had a hearing — develop with our input.”

Shortly before the Commerce Committee hearing, an Airbnb official released a statement in support of SB 1379. Expedia followed suit after the unanimous vote.

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