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Amid calls for local control, Scottsdale City Council approves STR rental police squad funding at City Hall

Some owners of homes, apartments and townhomes part of the popular short-term rental marketplace continue to be problematic for residents as police contacts continue within Scottsdale municipal bounds. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)

Scottsdale City Hall reports STR police contacts, STR squad funding

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Violence, mayhem and disturbing the peace has become synonymous with the short-term rental marketplace for many who call ‘The West’s Most Western Town’ home.

Most recently, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega, has called for more local control around the issue citing, amid other issues, a recent shooting.

“Beyond the daily disruptions that hundreds of residents face when these pop-up hotels appeared in our neighborhoods, there have been tragedies, there have been shootings, there have been huge drug busts,” he said in his July 17 statement.

“The Scottsdale City Council and our city staff have done all that we can within the boundaries of state law, but still, it has been a very bad experience for our community these past four years.”

During his routine report to City Council on matters of high-level interest, Scottsdale Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell included in his July 17 report police interactions and code enforcement violations at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., regarding STR properties within municipal jurisdiction.

“During the month of June 2023, the Scottsdale Police Department received 135 nuisance party calls for services, and 91 (67%) were related to short-term rentals.,” he said in his report to City Council. “The police department gave 74 warnings and issued three citations for nuisance party violations.”

Specifically looking at code enforcement cases, Mr. Stockwell reports there have been 3,099 total opened code enforcement cases since Jan. 9, 2023, of which 2,739 (88%) have been closed as the properties came into compliance.

“Short-term rental licensing and code enforcement efforts continue. As of July 17, there have been 3,878 short-term rental applications submitted, and 3,428 licenses approved,” he said. “The remainder of 450 are pending, incomplete, withdrawn or canceled. There have been 28 applications received, 24 new licenses issued, and 13 new code enforcement cases opened for short-term rental related violations so far this month.”

Scottsdale Councilman Barry Graham points out new reporting metrics are part of new tools adopted at City Hall this past January through state law allowances.

“Yes, Scottsdale police recently separated short-term rental nuisance party calls from other nuisance party calls. This was in response the new enforcement tools that became available in January 2023,” he said. “We hear horror stories from residents and learn about them in the news. While there are no calls about most of the thousands of STRs in Scottsdale, it doesn’t take many bad actors to disrupt quality of life.”

A July 17 report to Scottsdale City Council included police interactions and code enforcement violations at City Hall regarding STR properties within municipal jurisdiction. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress.com)
Scottsdale City Council OKs STR task force funding

The Arizona Digital Free Press reached out to the mayor and members of City Council regarding police contact at local STR operations appearing in the July 17 report of Mr. Stockwell.

“The current reporting metric for the Scottsdale Police Department began Jan. 8, 2022, when updates to the nuisance party & short term rental ordinances within Scottsdale Revised Code Chapter 18 went into effect,” said Scottsdale Public Affairs Director Kelly Corsette. “On Jan. 3, 2023, additional changes within Chapter 18 went into effect establishing the city’s licensing protocol for short-term/vacation rental owners to operate within the City of Scottsdale along with many other requirements.”

Mr. Corsette further clarifies the data points reported above reflect evaluation of routine data collection at the Scottsdale Police Department.

“The call for service numbers reported by the police department reflects its monthly patrol responses related to all nuisance parties regardless if at a short-term rental, long term rental, or a traditionally owned home, with a further breakdown of how many of those calls could be attributed to licensed and unlicensed short term rental properties,” he said.

“The enforcement numbers are inclusive for citywide enforcement actions by the police related at nuisance parties for infractions of state and city laws. Additionally, the enforcement numbers also capture police actions for infractions within Scottsdale Revised Code Chapter 18 specific to short-term rental properties beyond nuisance parties.”

Mr. Corsette gathered information requested by the Digital Free Press offering responses from representatives at City Hall from the Scottsdale Police Department, Code Enforcement and the City Manager’s office.

*How have things been going working with both local and out-of-state STR operators here in the city of Scottsdale?”

Scottsdale Code Enforcement staff has been effective in working with short term rental operators and property owners to encourage compliance with local ordinances as issues arise. The majority of the operators and owners, whether they are local or from out of state, have been cooperative and have complied with any enforcement action taken by the staff.

*Any positive efforts you can tell me about how the city is working to help address those concerns?

The Scottsdale City Council approved funding to create a Short-Term Rental Squad in the Scottsdale Police Department that will comprise one sergeant, four officers, and one police aide to respond to and investigate complaints of nuisance parties and short-term rental infractions. To date, the sergeant has been transferred to the squad with the rest of the positions anticipated to be filled early in 2024.

Mr. Corsette explains Scottsdale police officials report local officers on overtime are filling the roles until dedicated officers are assigned.

“Until the squad is staffed, overtime positions are being used each Friday and Saturday night to directly address nuisance party and short-term rental calls for service,” he said.

“The police department also changed its dispatch priority of party calls with goal to respond within two hours from the time the call for service originated. Scottsdale Police in partnership with Code Enforcement and several other city departments has conducted significant community outreach via community meetings, virtual town halls, and block watch meetings to answer community questions and to gain insight into the community’s concerns.”

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