Short Term Vacation Rentals Divide Sedona Residents

Julieanna Bottorff has lived in her quiet Sedona neighborhood for 20 years. A deer path that runs behind her house and across the street was regularly trafficked by wildlife.

Then a developer moved in across the street and ripped up the path, she says. The developer plans to build as many as five 6,000-square-foot homes to be used as short-term rentals, neighbors say.

The once quiet street is now punctuated with the steady noise of construction. The move comes as residents of the tourist hotspot grapple with the consequences of a two-year-old state law that restricts how cities and towns can regulate short-term home rentals advertised on websites such as Airbnb or VRBO.

On Wednesday, more than 150 people attended a city meeting. The Sedona residents grilled state Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, about how the state plans to address the law’s consequences.

Among them: investors moving into neighborhoods to buy up multiple homes, vacation renters driving up housing costs and the changing neighborhood dynamics.

Several homeowners supported the recent law that allowed vacation rentals to flourish in Arizona. They spoke about how the short-term rentals made it possible for them to pay their mortgages.

Source: ‘They killed our city’: Locals feel helpless as vacation rentals overrun Sedona, Arizona

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We have had an Airbnb, and have also used them. The problem is in the popular areas many can become just modern day flophouses.

Personally, I feel that the property owners’ rights to full use and enjoyment should never be infringed, but rather any control of property use is best left to the individual, or past that,  a small carefully supervised HOA or better yet neighborhood council.

Once we get to the municipal level, the rules get more ridiculous, and the monies wasted in trying to enforce the new laws just end up creating more bureaucracy (which taxpayers have to fund, defeating the whole exercise.)

The real culprit behind the shortage is the the Federal and State governments who own and control vast parts of Arizona. Instead of opening new areas to development in places that are desirable (such as Sedona, Flagstaff etc.,)  huge areas of land are virtually locked out of the market.

While many would decry development, it’s an unfortunate result of the many who have come to love, and want to stay here. Airbnb is a natural result of a need in the leisure marketplace. We use the service to save money, but more importantly it allows us to visit more expensive locales or places lacking in public lodging.

While the plight of long term rental residents is certainly saddening, the fact is that if you want housing security, it’s best to own rather than rent. Even if you still have to pay annual taxes and association dues to keep your own property, it’s still better than being completely subject to the whims of the real estate market. As a long term plan, it makes more sense. The freedom of renting allows you to leave at any time, but makes you a victim of housing inflation too.

Today, we’re in a frothy residential market in many places, but these cycles ebb & flow, and I believe there will be opportunities in the next few years for those who missed the last one, or the one before that, or the one before that….

It’s somewhat comforting to think that if I needed to rent out a spare bedroom, that I could do it without a lot of government red tape. As I approach retirement age, I want as many options as possible. Let’s keep our homes as our castles, and keep the bureaucracy out.

 

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