Homeowners say Airbnb ruined Sedona Arizona

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Earlier this year, I wrote about Arizona’s disastrous attempt at regulation of short-term rentals, beginning with a state law enacted in 2016. (Senate Bill 1350) Arizona now prevents local governments from banning short-term rental homes.

Critics say that state law makes local governments powerless to address numerous nuisances created by AirBnB, Vrbo, and HomeAway rentals.

For example, owners and residents of Sedona are turning up the pressure on Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe (R) to undo the damage done by Senate Bill 1350 since 2016. They says their once quiet residential neighborhoods have been turned into unregulated, mini-hotel districts.

Among the complaints over the influx of vacationers: increased traffic, difficult parking, noise, late night parties, and trash.

So, earlier this year, Arizona state legislators enacted a watered-down bill to curb the use of short-term rentals as “party houses.” 

However, many residents of Sedona and other cities say the new law is weak on enforcement. They say AirBnB style rental properties have ruined their city.

Too many short-term rentals?

According to several local reports, nearly 20% of single family homes in Sedona are short-term rentals.

Residents say that the influx of investor-owned short-term-rental properties is destroying their quality of life. No longer can residents count on getting to know their neighbors, and establishing lasting friendships. That’s because, in Sedona, residents deal with a constant flow of tourists in and out of their neighborhoods.

With short-term rental properties scattered throughout the city, tourism is no longer limited to commercial zones, resorts, or entertainment districts.

Real estate investors’ rabid appetite for short-term rental properties has other adverse effects. A growing number of long-term rental properties are being converted to short-term rentals. That limits the supply of housing for Sedona’s service workers, and drives up the cost of housing in general.

Employers complain that most service workers cannot afford Sedona’s high housing costs, nor can they afford to commute to work. They say that’s creating a shortage of workers to serve the growing tourist economy.

AirBnB graduates from condos to single family houses

In the past, apartment-style units or townhouse condominiums made up most of short-term rentals. Vacation destinations tend to attract condo buyers who are more interested in return on investment than full-time occupancy.

More often than not, owner-occupants make up the minority political faction in these association-governed communities.

But many local professionals and business owners assumed they could escape the hustle and bustle of busy tourist zones by purchasing or renting a detached single family home in one of Sedona’s residential neighborhoods.

However, that all changed when real estate trade groups exerted their political influence over state government. Arizona’s state laws practically invite out of town investors to buy up single family homes and convert them to AirBnB rentals in Sedona.

More money in short-term rentals

In the short-term rental business, the more bedrooms and bathrooms in the house, the better. That translates to the potential for more paying guests.

It’s far more lucrative than renting a single family home to a family for one or more years at a time.

As a destination city for outdoor enthusiasts, it shouldn’t be surprising that Sedona is  attracting more tourism, and fewer full-time residents.

What’s interesting is that the controversial issue of short-term rental restrictions didn’t get as much attention when AirBnb rentals were limited to condominiums. But now that single family home neighborhoods are impacted, opposition to AirBnB-style rentals is increasing.

In Arizona, that translates to a political war over property rights between local government (cities) and state government.

Don’t count on your HOA to prevent short-term rentals

By the way, don’t be misled into believing that a homeowner’s association (HOA) can prevent AirBnB rentals from taking over the community. It all depends on who in the association holds the voting power to allow or restrict rentals.

In a resort destination, a majority of home and lot owners tend to be investors, not owner-occupants. A minority of residents seeking a stable residential neighborhood probably won’t be able to stave off the short-term rental craze, especially if investors control the HOA board. ♦


Are Airbnb and the home-sharing market hurting Sedona?

12 News | Published: 6:09 PM MST July 29, 2019
Updated: 6:07 PM MST July 29, 2019

Airbnb takes over 20% of housing in one Arizona city
Resident, business leaders speak out
August 21, 2019
Kelsey Ramírez |  HousingWire

Sedona residents address short-term rentals with Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe
JULY 26TH, 2019

‘They killed our city’: Locals feel helpless as vacation rentals overrun Sedona, Arizona
Lorraine Longhi, Arizona Republic | Published 9:57 a.m. MT July 27, 2019

Democratic Perspective, Progressive Talk Radio KAZM AM 780 Sedona, AZ
Moriarty Interview – Podcast July 8, 2019
Dunton, Segner, Strauch Interview – Podcast July 15, 2019

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