Neighbors rally vs proliferation of short-term rentals

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By Diana Whittle

If you think of your home as your castle, you’re not unlike the Tempe residents who live in Estate La Colina.

Located in the 85284 zip code, the neighborhood extends from McClintock Road to the west, Buena Vista on the north and Warner Road on the south. It features large and well-maintained homes, with mature trees and many longtime residents.

Simply said, Estate La Colina is the kind of neighborhood most people would aspire to live in, with access to good schools and close to plenty of amenities.

Five years ago, current resident Jim Corkins happily purchased his residence on Holbrook Lane and hoped to live a long, comfortable life there with his family.

But the dream became altered last year when the next-door property sold to a Las Vegas-based investor, Juan Pulido, who re-modeled it and converted its use from single-family residence to a short-term rental—aka an Airbnb-type of vacation home.

For the uninitiated, Airbnb is a 10-year-old company, headquartered in San Francisco, which bills itself as an online marketplace and hospitality service that enables people to sign up for short-term lodging, including vacation, condo or home rentals.

While Airbnb doesn’t own any lodging, it serves as an on-line broker and claims to have listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries.

The growth of Airbnb-style, on-line rentals served as a catalyst for a burgeoning market in
neighborhoods all across the country and, in particular, in climate-friendly destinations like
Arizona.

According to statistics, on the Airdna website, the increase in short-term rentals in Tempe is up 85 percent over the last several years. It’s a troubling trend for the residents of Estate La Colina, who say they feel that the historic character of their neighborhood is different, and that the stability and value of their homes is in jeopardy.

Led by resident Corkins, a group of neighbors appeared at a Dec. 7 Tempe City Council work-study meeting to express concerns over the growth in short-rentals in general and, in specific, about the home at 8648 S. Holbrook Lane.

“Essentially the new owner converted this residence into a small apartment building and hotel capable of supporting 10 people, when the property previously was a single-family, five-bedroom home,” explained Corkins to the council.

Additional conversions to the home’s interior removed common areas, so more bedrooms were created, and the entire front yard was paved to allow for additional parking.

In addition, Corkins said he and other neighbors have had to call Tempe police on numerous occasions due to loud parties, drug and alcohol use, as well as on parking issues created by the short-term renters.

“The landlord lives out of state and is available only by text, and has allowed construction debris to be in front of the house for months on end,” said Corkins.

“The tenants seem to ignore texts from the landlord, and Senate Bill 1350 states that the property doesn’t have to be registered as a rental, so he does not have to have a manager on site.”

Even residents who don’t live next to the home with the short-term renters say they feel their lives in the neighborhood are adversely affected.

In response, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell cited the recently passed SB1350, which rules that a city or town may not prohibit short-term or vacation rentals in homes.

“Due to this law, cities are limited in their response to this problem of short-term rentals,” said Mitchell. “So I encourage all residents to contact their state representatives to express their concerns.”

Still, Mitchell pledged to those residents in attendance at the council work-study session that he would form a committee to review any possible city code violations.

In the following weeks, a special workgroup that includes Councilmembers Lauren Kuby, Kolby Granville and Joel Navarro, along with Ron Tapscott from Tempe Neighborhoods Together, have met to discuss the code issues along with some possible solutions submitted by Corkins and his neighbors.

“The state representative for my neighborhood is Jill Norgaard, and Councilmember Kuby is in contact with her and another neighbor, Bill Baxter,” said Corkins.

“But to date, there has not been much state action in response to neighbors’ complaints.”

A Tempe city spokesperson, Kris Baxter-Ging, acknowledged that “staff has definitely heard the neighbors’ concerns on short-term vacation rentals and we are looking for possible solutions in our code to mitigate the issue.”

She also mentioned that some residential areas have homeowner associations while others have just neighborhood associations, each with different legal standings.

For example, a neighborhood association is a voluntary organization of residents who work
together to improve and maintain the quality of life in their neighborhood—such as Estate La Colina.

Such associations can form out of concern over a particular issue, like the one involving short-term rentals, or as a means of enhancing the sense of community in the neighborhood.

HOAs, conversely, are formal legal entities created to maintain common areas and enforce
private deed restrictions, commonly referred to as CC&Rs.

The HOA is usually created when the development is built and has the legal authority to enact and enforce maintenance and design standards in addition to those established by city ordinances.

If you would like to know whether you live within an active neighborhood-association area or are interested in receiving information on how to form such an association, contact Tempe’s Neighborhood Services Division at 480-350-8234.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Giving opportunity for vacation rental business is a healthy business competition among all others who has the same type of business. Somehow, general statutes of the state has to be reviewed to determine the applicable laws and regulations as it relates to leasing vacation property. Regulations on vacation rentals like follow a state standard for occupancy, set up a system for permitting and enforcement, and provide renters with a code of conduct that covers issues like noise, trash and parking are only some that has to be considered in setting up rules in which it will bring favors to both the vacation rental business and to that who has the same line of business. Please check http://rentalo.com to learn about vacation rentals.

    • I believe a robot has written Ex Castillo’s note above while also turning it into a free ad. Gotta admire someone taking a newspaper article about how badly these rentals are managed by many people and thinking, there’s gotta be a way to get more money with this!

  2. A classic Arizona State Government response…take the ability for the cities to govern away from the cities. First the Ban on Banning Plastic Bags and now this…there must be some slumlords in the Legislature making a quick buck.

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