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By the numbers: City Hall reports Scottsdale STR registration rates at 68%

Photo of major Scottsdale STR operators
Scottsdale’s ordinance complies with Arizona Senate Bill 1168 passed by the legislature last year and signed by the governor in July 2022, and reflects the full authority granted to cities under state law. (File Photos/
Code enforcement calls surge as Scottsdale STR registration slogs along
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

At last count 68% or 3,439 of short-term rental operators within municipal bounds of Scottsdale either are or working toward full compliance to local ordinance No. 4655, an internal report to City Council shows.

Scottsdale City Council unanimously adopted ordinance No. 4655 in October, requiring rental property owners and operators to obtain a Scottsdale license for each property and comply with several safety, health and neighbor notification requirements.

And since that time, the latest City Council report shows, city staff has been focused on working with local STR operators to register properties to help belay neighborhood concerns and give local control back to City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

The annual license fee is $250 per property; fees will go 100% to cover costs associated with licensing vacation and short-term rentals.

Scottsdale’s ordinance complies with Arizona Senate Bill 1168 passed by the legislature last year and signed by the governor in July 2022, and reflects the full authority granted to cities under state law.

Scottsdale Assistant City Manger Brent Stockwell provided to City Council Sunday, March 19, the latest STR registration tallies, which among other things, shows 68% of the 5,054 local vacation rental properties advertised within municipal bounds are working toward registration.

Data points shared with members of City Council included:

  • As of Sunday, March 19, 2023, there have been 3,439 short-term rental applications submitted, an increase of 62 from the prior week (Chart 1).
  • Of these, there have been 2,474 applications approved, an increase of 157 from the prior week (Chart 2). 25 applications are pending review, and 902 have been sent back for incomplete information.
  • On the code enforcement side, an additional 25 new cases were opened, for a total of 3,103 cases since enforcement efforts started (See Chart 3). Last week there was three first notices of violation sent, and 13 final 10-day notices of violations sent.

Code enforcement calls surge as Scottsdale STR registration slogs along

Mr. Stockwell told the Arizona Digital Free Press one trend not expected was code enforcement violation calls at such a high rate.

“The initial focus was processing the initial surge of licensing applications, as well as the initial rush of compliance notices after the deadlines,” he said. “That shifted to identifying holdouts and documenting noncompliance. If I recall correctly, more than 1,700 of the original notices have come into compliance, and we are proceeding with enforcement on the rest.”

Scottsdale City Councilman Barry Graham was hoping to see better returns from the marketplace on municipal efforts.

“I’ll be direct, the volume of short-term rental applications has been disappointing,” he said. “Before 2023, we were told there might be 6,000-plus STRs in Scottsdale, but to-date the city has received about 3,500 applications — and 900 applications have been sent back to applicants due to incomplete information.”

Councilman Graham points out residents continue to voice concerns at City Hall regarding bad actors part of the STR marketplace in Scottsdale.

“We’ve all heard the horror stories of STR-bad actors for years — especially in south Scottsdale,” he explained. “While the registration process is meant to give the city more tools to protect residents’ quality of life, it hasn’t yet met expectations. As you can imagine, residents don’t reach out when an STR cleans up its act. We hear when resident’s quality of life is affected. Recently, some of the most egregious behavior has made the news.”

Councilman Graham reminds Arizona cities and towns are creatures of the state legislature — therefore logic dictates the STR lobby and operators continue to concentrate politicking efforts within those corridors.

“We’re not hearing much from STR organizations that represent owners and operators,” he said. “They seem to be concentrating their efforts at the state legislature. I wish the dialogue with cities were stronger, particularly with tourism cities like Scottsdale. The city needs to be more aggressive about increasing enrollment. Although most STRs operate within the law and without problems, it doesn’t take many bad actors to create havoc, which give STRs a bad name.”

Mr. Graham says registration is a step toward marketplace harmony — but hopes to see a rapid increase in registration rates.

“We knew the STR registration process would take time. Nevertheless, the slow response rate is frustrating. The city has already dedicated significant staff hours to the process. While progress is being made, we must do better,” he said. “City Council is monitoring the situation on a weekly basis, and will take action, when and if necessary.”

Councilman Graham explains residents can continue to play a role in registration and code enforcement by going HERE.

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