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Water, heat, short-term rentals high on Hobbs’ legislative radar

PHOENIX — Extensive post-session interviews with Gov. Katie Hobbs and Capitol Media Services yielded a few other points.


The governor said he is considering whether changes to Arizona law regarding who can lease state land and what uses are allowed there are needed.

All of this came to the fore following reports that Fondmonte, which has leased land in western Arizona for nearly a decade, is exporting alfalfa grown there to Saudi Arabia to feed the kingdom’s dairy cows. More important, under its lease, is the ability to pump the water it needs.

“Fondomonte is a place for everyone’s attention,” Hobbes said. But she points out that the company is not the only company growing crops on state-owned land.

“It would treat some tenants differently than other tenants,” Mr Hobbs said.

The question of whether a state can decide not to lease land to grow alfalfa simply because alfalfa is exported, and the question of whether farmers can decide not to lease land to grow alfalfa simply because it is being exported, and whether farmers are willing to take other measures, such as vegetables shipped to Arizona and possibly out of the country. There is also the issue of comparing it to the fact that the

“That’s a really valid question,” the governor said. “Just because Alfalfa doesn’t like going to Saudi Arabia, we can’t unilaterally strip him of his lease.”

And none of this addresses the related issue that some of this farming is done on private property, and gaps in state law limit the ability of owners to limit the amount of groundwater they pump. All of this adds to the complexity of the questions raised, Hobbes said.

“When you look at the decline in agriculture in the Yuma area, it’s a major food security issue for Arizonas and many Americans, especially during the winter months,” she said, noting that the area produces 90 percent of the nation’s green leafy vegetables. is estimated to produce during the winter.

Still, the governor acknowledged that even alfalfa could be considered part of “food security.”

“We raise a lot of cows here,” she said.

A related question is whether there is enough water to keep up with population growth.

This issue has been addressed to some extent in urban ‘positive management areas’ where developers must demonstrate access to reliable water supplies for 100 years. And the state doesn’t issue building permits in parts of Maricopa County where it can’t meet its goals.

However, in rural areas there are generally no regulations. The governor said there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution.

“I don’t think the restrictions in force in Mojave County, for example, are the same restrictions in force in Cochise,” she says. “And there should be a local side to it.”

This unfolded earlier this year when voters in Cochise County agreed to establish an active administrative area in the Douglas Basin. However, similar plans were rejected by the residents of the Wilcox Basin.


Hobbes said he was considering whether to declare a state of emergency because of the unusually hot weather.

The governor said such declarations, like those that could be issued after a fire or flood, would free up state budget for everything from cooling centers to helping some people pay their utility bills. said he would.

All of this came after Mr. Hobbes asked state power companies to provide information on how they are prepared to handle unprecedented warm weather, especially in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This includes not only consecutive high temperatures above 110 degrees, but also a series of nights when mercury did not drop below 90 degrees.

“We want to make sure public works don’t turn off air conditioning when people can’t pay their bills right now, when people could die,” she said. Told. “There was a very high-profile death a few years ago.”

That’s Stephanie of Sun City West, who died of heat-related complications after someone paid only $125 of a $176 bill and the Arizona Public Service Company lost power on a 107-degree day. It’s about Mr. Pulliam. The company eventually agreed to a settlement with her family.

Most utilities have to follow rules set by the Arizona Business Commission, so much of what they said to the governor was already on the record. It requires companies to adopt a policy of stopping cutting from June 1 to October 15 each year, or if outside temperatures are likely to exceed 95 degrees.

And even the Salt River Project, which is not subject to commission regulation, has agreed not to cut power if the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning.

short term rental

Hobbes has called on lawmakers to reconsider a 2016 law that stripped cities of the power to regulate vacation rentals.

The measure was pitched to lawmakers as an opportunity for individuals to earn a little money by renting out empty rooms. In fact, Airbnb got its name from the idea of ​​setting up air mattresses for guests.

However, the reality turned out to be something completely different.

In some communities, entire neighborhoods of homes and apartments are being bought up by investors and turned into short-term rentals, depleting housing available to locals.

Faced with a flurry of complaints, lawmakers had previously agreed to require owners to register and give the city certain powers to allow controls such as noise violations. But further efforts, such as limiting the number of short-term rentals in neighborhoods, have failed.

“If you go across the state, there are different issues that short-term rentals affect different communities in different ways,” the governor said. “I think cities should be able to regulate in a way that works best for them.”

And that would mean rescinding state-imposed restrictions, she said.

This means allowing some restrictions if necessary, the governor said. And evidence number one for her is Sedona, where her one home near six is ​​estimated to be a short-term rental, far higher than any other community in Arizona.

“It’s impacting housing availability for workers,” Hobbes said.

“This is the tourism economy,” she continued. “And a lot of people working in that economy can’t live there.”

But can the community outlaw them entirely?

The governor replied, “I cannot answer that.”

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