Cities simply need to enforce good neighborhood policy

By: Guest Opinion March 8, 2021

Paradise Valley Mayor Bien-Willner is wrong. Cities have all the authority they need to enforce good neighborhood policy.

Rep. Kavanagh’s HB2481 is too much regulation and not needed. The laws are already on the books and have been for a long time. These laws enable cities to restrict and enforce noise, nuisance, or neighborhood disturbances. The cities and towns simply need to do their job and enforce the laws.

There is no problem that can’t be solved by working together. Airbnb, Expedia/VRBO, and Arizona Vacation Rental Association (AVRA) are working and talking with cities and short-term rental owners to ensure a “good neighbor” policy is followed by all.

To set the record straight, data show that so-called “bad actors” and “party houses” make up less than one-tenth of one percent of all STR activity. To put this into perspective, this means that 99.9% of short-term rental owners are good neighbors, operate responsibly, quietly, and have few complaints. We are working proactively to encourage these practices. Airbnb recently shut down 50 “party houses” that had received regular and repeated complaints. Several of these were in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Should we kill 99.9% to go after the 1%? No! We should not.

We, the industry platforms and AVRA, have connected with many short-term rental owners and we are in communication, urging better practices and policing of their properties. We all recognize that these short-term rental owners are in neighborhoods, and it puts an added responsibility to ensure good behavior by patrons. The short-term rental industry’s economic impact is big, and it is significant. Short-term rental owners are concerned and want to avoid potential problems. They have reached out to us and we’re communicating regularly. We are meeting with city councils, mayors and police departments. We discuss with them how the industry is working to be good neighbors. We discuss the economic impact and share how the rental process works.

The plain truth is short-term rental patrons are predominantly families coming to enjoy everything that makes Arizona special. They’ve been doing it since before Frank Lloyd Wright build Taliesin West – and my father, Sen. Barry Goldwater, would’ve recognized that.

Short-term rental owners are local residents and small business people who collectively are the people who build and grow Arizona for the future. HB2481 would penalize, restrict or completely put these short-term rental owners out of business during a pandemic, which has already destroyed so many small Arizona businesses.
Barry Goldwater, Jr.

Arizona was forward-thinking when Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB1350, the “Home Sharing Act,” into law in 2016, protecting private property owners’ constitutional rights to operate their property as rentals. Sen. Goldwater, my father, believed in the Constitution that protects property rights.
Worldwide, Arizona is known for its friendly atmosphere. We are easy-going, with a healthy business climate, beautiful sunsets and weather. Snowbirds flock to Arizona for world-class golf, spring training, major league baseball, basketball, football and hockey. New businesses and families are relocating to Arizona from blue states because of high taxes and onerous regulations. It’s no secret why people choose to stay in an Arizona short-term rental property.
Annually, Arizona has 10 million visitors. 30% of those visitors choose to stay at a short-term rental property. Annually, over $3 billion is spent by visitors. The short-term rental industry pays $350 million in tax revenue to Arizona and supports over 40,000 Arizona jobs. It is a giant economic engine that is vital to sustaining and growing Arizona’s economy. We do not need more regulation. We need the Mayor of Paradise Valley to enforce the rules already on his town’s books.

It may come as a surprise to most of us that cities like Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Lake Havasu City, and Prescott have hundreds of short-term rentals operating in their municipalities today. These patrons are pumping vital economic life into these cities at a time when they need it most. This segment of the economy can be expected to see continued growth, benefitting every part of Arizona.

There is no need for different rules for private property simply because they are short-term rentals, which would infringe upon the constitutional rights of Arizonans. This would be a “conservative conscience” that father would proclaim and embrace.

If tourism is important to Arizona, then short-term rentals are important to Arizona tourism. We do not need more regulations, but cities need to enforce the laws that are already on their books. I urge members of our State Legislature to oppose HB2481 with their full strength and might.

Barry M. Goldwater, Jr., a retired member of the U.S. Congress, is a founder of Arizona Vacation Rental Association.