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Ortega: Arizona legislators wrong to add to STR ‘catastrophe’ through casita provisions

Photo of Ortega
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega atop the local dais at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (Photo by Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress)
By David Ortega | Point of View

As Scottsdale and other Arizona cities grapple with the chaos caused by invasion of mini hotels into our residential neighborhoods, the Arizona Legislature now threatens to double the number of short-term rentals (STRs) on single-family lots.

HB 2720 and SB 1415 would force cities to allow a second residence, known as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU); and authorize them to be rented as STR “casitas.” 

Falsely promoted by the AirBnB and VRBO lobby and their proxies as “affordable housing,” these bills would further overturn local zoning authority and double the pressure on police and fire services. Speaking of fire, these bills would specifically circumvent Scottsdale ordinances which require fire sprinklers and on-site parking.

No question, one-night stands and weekend rentals are a nuisance and corrode neighborhood life. Scottsdale is well known for beautiful neighborhoods, vast recreational opportunities and a marvelous quality of life. Long-time residents are now plagued by noise, trash, and unseemly behavior on a regular basis. And the legislature is considering doubling up the catastrophe.

Scottsdale City Council just passed additional measures to hold party promoters liable, prohibit STR rentals to minors and grant police authority to shut down unruly party houses and evict non-residents. Cities also must regain the authority to require on-site parking, mitigate traffic, prevent inadequate access for public safety vehicles, and increase funding for enforcement. 

HB 2720 and SB 1415 are a brazen attempt by the short-term rental industry to take over Scottsdale. The stated intent behind these measures is to fix the affordable housing crisis. By definition STRs are not permanent housing. 

There are over 4,000 STRs in Scottsdale. Adding an STR at every one of these properties yields 8,000 problems. The bills are tailored so that STR platforms can market STR–ADUs separately. STR operators, investors and builders would profit, at the expense of our residents. 

Cities across Arizona are approving housing developments left and right thru their local zoning process. And many cities have approved casitas (ADUs) but prohibited short-term rental use to increase their permanent housing stock.

Favoring a voracious industry with no regard for community safety, preservation of resident life, and protection of constituents’ life-time home investment — is just plain wrong. I strongly urge legislators to vote no on HB 2720 and SB 1415. In the future it is likely that the term STR may come to mean short-term representative. 

Editor’s Note: David Ortega is mayor of Scottsdale.

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