There is no question that Short Term Rentals (STR) have changed the character of housing in Sedona.
In past years, Sedona homes owned by out-of-towners were rented to locals at fair or below-market prices, and this market subsidy was advantageous for both renter and owner. The renter could rent a lovely home in a tourist town. The homeowner received rent to help pay for their future home with a caretaker to look after their investment. This symbiotic relationship worked for both parties, especially for Sedona’s business.
When the state of Arizona passed SB-1350 in 2016, it changed this relationship.
Now the homeowner could hire a professional company to manage and rent out their home as a STR and make enough to pay for the mortgage with a little (sometimes a lot) leftover, and the local governments can do nothing to stop it.
Sedona lost workforce housing and long-term neighbors.
Traffic on our roads and hiking trails has also increased with the over 900 new STR homes, thousands of rooms for overnight lodging that did not exist just 5 years ago.
SB-1350 has tied the hands of local government regarding STR, and the state legislature has shown no interest in making any changes to the law. In reality, we will need to live with this new business model. Short Term Rentals, lodging in residential neighborhoods are here to stay.
Some people running for office say they can and will fix short-term rentals; this isn’t true—the state constitutional provisions grandfather all existing STR with only minor changes allowed. Even it the law was amended, you can’t go backwards to the existing STR businesses.
I know no one wants to hear anything good about STR, but there are pros and cons. We’ve heard a lot about the disadvantages, so let’s look at a few advantages.
- Most STR now pay sales and bed tax, thanks to our manager and city council.
- In most cases, Short Term Rental homes have been upgraded, painted, and yards cleaned up.
- These professionally managed homes/yards are maintained on a regular bases.
- In checking with the city, party houses have not been a problem like other cities like Scottsdale have experienced. This is partly due to the city’s effort to build a relationship with the management companies.
- The city of Sedona uses the new income from STR and the sales and bed tax from hotels to re-invest in the city infrastructure for the benefit of the citizens and visitors.
- Because of Sedona’s very healthy financial status, the 2023 city budget will be over 80+million dollars, and the majority of the funds going to projects designed to enhance and benefits residents. The city of Sedona can also buy and land bank property and guide its development for work force housing needs as well as tourism management programs like parking and transit to trailheads.
The city of Sedona has restructured its relationship with the Chamber of Commerce from a direct partnership to a pay for service relationship with no funding for direct media marketing for the last few years.
Let’s always remember tourism pays for the majority of Sedona government. That’s police, parks, non-profit funding like the library and Meals on Wheels, new roads, paving old roads, new sidewalks, and millions dedicated to improvements in our infrastructure such as the Forest Road extension being built this year.
Sedona has had outstanding leadership over the last eight years. Let the city council finish what they started. Let us not fall for “Magical” thinking that offers quick solutions for complicated problems that some candidates are offering to get elected. Let’s end the unproductive and divisive blame game.
Sedona is not broken. It has been discovered by hyper-active social media. Covid introduced millions more visitors to Sedona. And short-term rental residential lodging has given many visitors a new place to stay overnight often at a price point substantially less than traditional lodging. We have challenges for sure, but realistic, practical, focused and intelligent management of our challenges is the city’s current path. Let’s encourage it to continue and vote for continuity of Sedona government and management of our tourism economy by choosing candidates that understand these facts.
Thank you, Steve Segner. Expressed well!
Agree! Well said.
Just more silliness from Sedona’s biggest embarrassment. Avoid Steve and his dreamworld at all costs.
May I ask what was silly about anything he said?…You dont like facts? You dont like the way the law was drawn up and passed by our Republican lawmakers?…..Please enlighten me with your wisdom of his false comments?
Or just another Sedona know it all that has no clue how government is run and how Bills become Law!
Actually, the problem lies at the governor’s office when it was declared that cities and counties will not be able to override an edict that made all of AZ feckless i determining their own decisions on short term rentals.
Pergap a governor who will cancel that ridiculous rule and give the power back to local governments to determine their own rules and laws on short term rentals.
Perhaps getting cities to divide themselves into wards based on population and be evenly represented and then even declaring their boundaries an association, thereby setting their own rules of what constitutes short term.
I will concede only one point about STRs: More properties are being fixed up and/or maintained. Unfortunately, that’s because they’re owned by people or businesses that are running them like hotels, and the cons far outweigh the pros. The proliferation of these STRs has contributed to the continued decline of Sedona’s sense of community and to the destruction of our quality of life and environment through the impacts of over-tourism.
The rest of Mr. Segner’s opinion column is just another cheerleading piece for tourism and the status-quo for chamber of commerce priorities.
In fact, Sedona IS broken, and its leadership has NOT been “outstanding.” It has been utterly deaf to the cries of residents who want less tourism, less traffic, more services for the people who live here, and more responsible spending of taxpayers’ dollars. I don’t care how flush with tourist dollars the city budget is: it means nothing compared to the degradation of our town and quality of life. I don’t know what the city has been spending that money on, but I can promise you it hasn’t been on meaningful services, the Ranger Station Park, a new police headquarters or police officer needs, or emergency planning preparation.
There are two meaningful bits of information missing from Mr. Segner’s column and they speak very loudly about residents’ opinions of the less-than-outstanding work of Sedona’s current and past “leadership:” (1) the population of Sedona continues to decline as people vote with their feet, and (2) there’s a big field of political challengers for the mayor’s job and open city council seats, the biggest field of challengers I’ve seen since I’ve lived here, and those challengers are all running on a platform for change because they see that most residents desperately want change.
When the Sedona Public Library conducted focus groups and surveys of patrons and residents last year, they heard one thing loud and clear: residents are very, very unhappy with city government and suggested the library make a point of distinguishing itself as separate from the city. If you don’t believe me, read the report the library prepared after it conducted its assessment — it’s there in black and white.
I am one of many who hope that the August 2022 election will bring a new mayor and new city council members to Sedona. The old way of doing business has failed our little town.