Tempe not alone in worries about recent spread of short-term rentals

Estates La Colina, it appears, is not the only neighborhood doing battle over the recent
infiltration of Airbnb-type lodging.

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As a result, residents in a growing number of cities, both state- and nationwide, are reported to have launched campaigns to place controls on the proliferation of temporary rentals.

Take, for example, people living in Arizona’s spectacular red rock country, which four years ago attracted then-Tempe residents Mark Moorehead and his wife Lynda.

Their sprawling home in the Village of Oak Creek, which commands a breathtaking view of Castle Rock and its environs, finds itself only a few houses away from at least one Airbnb location, a situation similar to one that has drawn not only Moorehead’s concerns but those of many in the community.

“The new state law (Senate Bill 1350, minimizing cities’ control over such uses) has resulted in the character and quality of life in our community being negatively affected,”
said Moorehead.

Additionally, he said, a significant drop has been noted in Sedona-area school enrollment because a lot of people who used to rent have been forced out as a result of their homes being sold to short-term-rental investors, many from other states.

Under new, often absentee ownership, said Moorehead, a onetime traditional rental can generate anywhere from two to three times as much as it did under a one-year lease arrangement.

Growing worries regarding the influx of temporary lodging locations in the area have been taken to city of Sedona officials and the local Chamber of Commerce, both of which have expressed concern.

Chamber officials also have reported receiving complaints from business owners fearing that the lack of availability of affordable housing is driving away workers.

Like the city officials, Sedona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff said her concern is not only affordable housing but potential impacts on
visitor capacity.

“Affordable housing is already in limited supply and I believe this law virtually eliminates Sedona’s chance to mitigate this issue,” she said. “Also, with this new legislation, the city of Sedona virtually loses its ability to manage visitor capacity and makes it even harder to balance tourism and quality of life for our residents.”

That’s coupled, Moorehead said, with the fact that business owners have been feeling the pinch for years due to a lack of available employees. In fact, a Sedona Chamber of Commerce survey distributed among its members last year listed the lack of existing workforce as the top concern.

One area official quoted in a Red Rock News article last year said, “I think [SB] 1350 has created a new sense of urgency. We’re all hearing stories about renters getting kicked out of their homes. Or, houses that are on the market that are being purchased by individuals who have declared early on that their intent is to turn them into short-term vacation rentals.”

Evidence of the migration by families out of the Sedona area is available practically every weekend, said Moorehead, when he and his wife stop at garage sales where the occupants report they’ve been forced from their rental home because of the owner converting it to an
Airbnb-type residence.

While a quiet group of short-term vacationers may not result in any noticeable disruption to the neighborhood, that’s not always the situation, Moorehead noted.

“We have one house that’s a couple of blocks away but people are coming and going all the time,” he said. “That, plus the traffic and the loud music—it changes your quality of life.”

The short-term rental business is growing so fast in Sedona, said Moorehead, that one Airbnb host is now renting out furnished tents in their backyard to accommodate the demand.

Police will respond if groups get too boisterous, but Sedona’s problem doesn’t appear likely to go away any time soon.


HOA challenges
While the state’s new law holds some help for Arizona’s homeowner associations, it does so with a serious caveat: Provisions prohibiting multiple dwellers in single-occupancy homes must have been written into the subdivision’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) when they originally were adopted.

At one of the Valley’s first and best recognized HOA communities, The Lakes in Tempe, manager Christine Baldanza said their subdivision is not protected from
the new law and would need to go through the complex challenge of rewriting the CCRs to cover that the current Airbnb problem.
As of last week, there were 12 temporary rental properties available at The Lakes.


  1. The impact of vacation rental business has contributed to the market share of the state. Knowing the significant sales tax revenue it constitutes is a marking point that vacation rental business is but a prime contributor to economic progress. Vacation rental business creates jobs, building up the economy and foster tourism on the most US states in which vacation rentals exists. Rentalo.com is a great site that helps vacation rental owners find travelers.

    • Being able to rent out your home on a short term basis is one thing, but converting a residence into a small hotel is another problem. It destroys the character of an R1 (residential zoned area). Particularly when it can be done with out complying to building, city and fire safety codes for a similar commercial property. I would contend that they cost jobs as they have in New York where occupancy rates have dropped over 20% in hotels and hotels have had to layoff employees.
      When (as we have had in our Estate La Colina area) truck drivers drive their big rigs into our neighbor hood to stay in a short term rental (small hotel) and block neighbors driveways it is not a positive situation. It has resulted in long standing neighbors selling their home at a significant loss. That is not an economic benefit. We are getting realtors calling and sending letters wanting to know if we want to sell our home. This is not good for Tempe!


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