By Tommy Acosta
Sedona News: Let’s talk reality here. Paying someone $75,000 to reverse SB 1350, is like trying to stop a mortally wounded elephant from bleeding out, with a Band-Aid.
There is no way in the known and even unknown universe that hiring a lobbyist will make even a smudge of a difference in the city’s campaign to regulate or get rid of short-term rentals.
That possibility that a Republican-dominated Arizona State Legislature will alter or reverse SB1350 in our lifetime, stands about the same chance a snowflake has of surviving a week in hell, during the summer.
Nope. No way.
No matter what. No matter how you toss the dice or spin that bottle SB1350 opponents have to contend with an immutable right that has been around for centuries. Wars have been fought for it. Men have killed and died for this concept.
A man’s home is his castle. I will say it again. A man’s home is his castle.
Who can deny that? Does anyone believe an elected official running for reelection is going to go against that indelible truth?
Not too long ago there was a valiant attempt by concerned citizens in this city to gain seats on the council and curtail the city’s spending habits by placing state-imposed expenditure limits on the city’s budget.
They garnered enough signatures to put the question to the public through the ballot box.
It looked like they may have had a chance to succeed but then they hobbled themselves with a slogan.
“No Home Rule” became their battle cry.
I was flabbergasted, floored by the immensity of the mistake they were making.
How could they make such a blunder?
Americans on either side of the aisle would never agree to give up the concept of ruling their home. The slogan implies that they should. It works in the deeper layers of consciousness.
It made no difference how hard the group tried to explain it logically, that they felt the city was spending money wildly and should be curtailed by taking the Home-Rule right through which the city had been operating for more than 20 years, away, and giving it to the state.
Voters would have none of that. The group lost by a large margin.
The Alternative Expenditure Limitation effort died on the same vine as their political ambitions. They had lost before they started. And all because of a slogan.
But let’s get back to short-term rental regulation.
A man’s home is his castle. Same of course, for a woman. That truth alone will discourage a legislator from introducing any legislation that rocks that boat.
And let’s not forget about the 800-pound gorilla in the room. That ‘s right. The Goldwater Institute.
They were the sword of light that chopped off the heads of those legally fighting to retain their ability to curtail and control short-term rentals.
The institute got firmly behind SR1350 and threw their legal might into the fight between the cities and a homeowner that started it all.
Jerome, Sedona, and Scottsdale until that point, either banned vacation rentals or severely restricted them.
Despite the best efforts of the cities to stop it, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Debbie Lesko passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
It was the first law of its kind in the country.
The three municipalities that until that point had control over rentals, took it on the chin. It was a KO. No more short-term rental control. That was it.
Is there hope? Consider this.
If any state legislator were to write and introduce a bill to counter SB1350 they would be shunned. It’s a fruitless effort. It will never succeed. They don’t want a loss on their legislative legacy.
You don’t cross the my-home-is my-castle people. You don’t trifle with the Barry Goldwater Institute either.
The only way to change things is to change the minds of those in power or eject them from their seats and put someone you want in their place.
For that you need the votes and someone to run on that platform — the reversal of SB1350 or at least its modification.
I know there are voices in the community saying the hiring of a lobbyist is a good first step — but if thought thru, one would see it for the exercise in futility that it is.
SB1350 is the law, whether we like it or not. State Legislature Republicans will not go against this bill. They will not introduce a new one either.
They will not mess with the Goldwater Institute. They will not mess with any man or woman’s castle.
A very glum assessment Mr. Acosta but sadly, you are right. No one has the right to tell me what I can do with my house. Not the city, state or federal government. If I was running an illegal enterprise, maybe. My home is my castle. Period. Short-term rentals are legal. And they will remain that way until every republican lawmaker in Arizona is replaced. I also think hiring a lobbyist is a waste of money, even if the city has barrels of it to burn. And this talk about Sedona being destroyed because of it is poppycock. Aside from the increased traffic, short-term renters are not burning down any neighborhoods.
Well, isnt this the perfect example of America now, and the power of the Supreme Court when it said, ” Corporations are people, and money is free speech”
It was lobbyist that got this past, and the only way to curtail it, is the same thing!
So as I don’t agree with the city on this, but what else can they do to fight it?
The council feels the pressure to “do something” about the STRs. They tried to do it themselves and failed. Now they’ve outsourced it so they can continue to say that they are “doing something.” The only thing that will get this done is legal action, but they want to spend their (our) money on the chamber. Sad.
My home is my castle has turned into large real estate investment corporations are now owning all the castles. Sedona citizens who have seen their neighborhoods rapidly turn into a row of short term rental hotels as I have are not fighting those who rent a room in their home for a short term rental, but the growing number of real estate investment corporations who are buying up all the available homes in Sedona for short term rentals. And, yes, this is happening. People who can still afford to buy a home in Sedona and try to are quickly outbid by corporations owning a string of short term rentals who pay in cash with no contingency or inspection necessary. As you may have noticed the value of your home in Sedona has now more than doubled in only a few years, but if you sell where could you move to? You would have to leave Sedona and many are now doing just that. Neighborhood like mine are now over 50% air B&Bs owned by corporations or out-of-state investors.
For those of us who live here and love Sedona, this has become a crisis. Currently there are only a dozen long-term rentals available and none of them are affordable to the majority of people working here.
Yes, investors and corporations are making huge profits as are the realtors and homeowners selling to them. And, yes, this is devastating the Sedona we know and love. The Governor and State Legislature are aware of the devastation this has done to Sedona and other towns and cities in Arizona affected by this. They realize their mistake but still refuse to act until the pressure to act from voters is more powerful than the pressure they are under from the powerful Goldwater Institute which has financial incentives to support the Air B&B corporation.
So, Tommy, this is no longer about a man or woman’s home is their castle. That train has passed almost five years ago when the law written by the Goldwater Institute stripping cities across Arizona of all regulatory control over short term rentals was passed and what we see today began.
I am on a committee of both Democrat and Republican Sedona residents trying everything we can legally do to overturn this damaging bill. It is not easy. There is great wealth and power acting against us. But despite that, if we love Sedona, we must do something and so I am.
Soon you will be hearing more about Sedona Citizens United. I hope you will join us. The short term rental problem is only one of a number of problems Sedona citizens face today. If you live here, you know what I am talking about. Those currently in elected office are doing nothing to represent the residents of Sedona despite their rhetoric. It’s long past time for the residents of Sedona to take back their town.
And Tommy, you are right that hiring a lobbyist will do nothing to help residents but appear as if they are doing something, just like hiring all those consultants to write the plans for Sedona’s future. It’s just more smoke and mirrors. It’s long past time that something actually be done to benefit Sedona and its residents.
Thank you Peter for your well-thought out reply. Perhaps people like you and your associates coupled with concerned Sedona citizens can actually do something to mitigate the damage these investing corporations are doing to our city. The pages of this publication are always open to you and others to share ideas and recommendations.