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AG asked to weigh in on Gila County’s regulation of short-term rentals

Gila County's regulation of short-term rental properties has drawn scrutiny from one of the county's Republican lawmakers, who has asked the attorney general for an opinion on whether the county is following a state law that limits regulation of local rental properties. .

Late last year, the Gila County Board of Supervisors 16 page regulations There are many regulations and restrictions on short-term rental properties like those listed on Airbnb and Vrbo. This ordinance goes far beyond similar ordinances adopted by other Arizona counties and municipalities.

One of the regulations includes a $250 annual fee, which the county says will cover the cost of a full-time compliance officer to enforce the new regulations. It would also allow the county to revoke a short-term rental permit if the new ordinance is violated three times.

As a result, Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, whose district includes Gila County, has asked Attorney General Chris Mays to issue a formal legal opinion on the pros and cons of the ordinance. violate state law This preempts cities, towns, and counties from enacting specific regulations regarding the use of short-term rental properties. rogers letter appears to be taking issue with annual membership fees and the fact that the money is used to enforce local ordinances.

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Rogers did not respond to repeated requests for comment on her request for comment. The Gila County Board of Supervisors also did not respond to requests for comment.

State neighborhood advocacy groups, which have fought for tighter regulations on short-term rentals, claim the letter is an attempt to launch a so-called “1487 charge” against Gila County.

In 2016, Republican lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1487, allowing lawmakers to order the AG to review a local government or county's actions if they determine they violate state law. If the attorney general determines that the local lawsuit violates state law, the sales and income tax revenues that the state collects and shares with the cities would be suspended until the lawsuit is remedied. .

Other cities that have passed short-term rental regulations include: faced similar challenges.

“I think she's looking for material to file some type of complaint in 1487,” said Commissioner Susan Edwards. Arizona Neighborhood Alliancehe told the Arizona Mirror. The Arizona Neighborhood Alliance is focused on finding solutions to how short-term rentals are impacting us. communities across the state.

In the same year that SB1487 was passed, the Arizona Legislature also enacted a law that prohibits municipalities from enacting regulations regarding short-term rentals, except in certain circumstances.

The new law at that time was The governor at the time promoted it.Doug Ducey He worked with other lawmakers as a way to stimulate the short-term rental market. But after a series of complaints from cities and towns that had no means to go after the bad guys; Ducey later said lawmakers should “reconsider.” Prohibition of local regulations.

The anti-regulation law is model legislation The group connects businesses with state legislators (almost exclusively Republicans) and helps craft pro-business legislation.

In many cases, this results in bills being passed simultaneously in state legislatures across the country.Short-term rental company Vrbo is a member of the industry association net choicewhose president sits at ALEC. Private Enterprise Advisory Committee.

ALEC has a strong presence in Arizona, with many Republicans in the House and Senate Republican caucuses. have a connection with the group.

Since the ALEC model bill was passed in 2016, other short-term bills have stalled, including this year's efforts.

Eleven different bills targeting the short-term rental industry were introduced this Congress, but all of them died. On February 22, Republican legislative leaders celebrated the bill's repeal at a luncheon with short-term rental industry leaders at the Arizona State Capitol.

“In the 12 years I've been here, a huge number of regulations targeting short-term rentals have come here. Do you know how many of them I voted for? Zero,” said Senate President Warren. Petersen (R-Gilbert) spoke to a crowd of short-term rental owners and lobbyists in a recording obtained by the Mirror. Mr. Rogers was joined by other Republicans, including House Speaker Ben Thoma, according to people who attended the event.

Petersen himself owned and operated Although it is a short-term rental property, it is currently being operated as a “traditional” rental property. Petersen also filed a complaint against Paradise Valley in 1487, citing the town's short-term rental regulations.

“It's your property. Do what you want with your property,” Petersen told short-term rental industry leaders, who responded with applause.

Edwards and other advocates say the proliferation of short-term rentals continues to have a huge impact on Arizona communities. What Sedona has seen is Rising STR prices and loss of affordable housing Since the passage of the law in 2016, more than 40 percent of the city's workforce now lives outside Sedona's boundaries.

“We have to change the makeup of the Legislature,” Edwards said, adding that people “who care about their neighborhoods” need to be elected to the state Legislature in November. Democratic lawmakers have generally fought for more regulation, a point Petersen emphasized in a speech to a crowd of short-term rental property owners.

“I don't know how much confidence I can say after November,” Petersen said of blocking short-term rental regulations in Congress. Petersen has voted in favor of a number of bills aimed at short-term rentals and cited his Democratic colleagues as his supporters. Republicans control both chambers by a single vote, and Democrats are expected to spend billions in this year's elections to flip control of Congress.

“Unfortunately, as long as Republicans control the House and Senate, the outlook is not good,” Edwards said, adding that short-term rentals are “destroying the fabric of community in our state.”

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