By Marty Macurak, Communications Manager
Sedona AZ (August 16, 2019) – There has been a great deal of interest in, and talk about, vacation rentals in Sedona lately. For more than 20 years, the practice of operating short-term rentals within the Sedona city limits was against city code. That changed in May 2016 when Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1350, which allowed short-term rentals throughout the state. The bill, which became effective on January 1, 2017, had the effect of preempting local jurisdictions from enacting ordinances that prohibit the rental of residential properties for fewer than 30 days. Current Arizona law law requires cities to treat short-term rentals the same as long-term rentals or owner-occupied homes.
Following the restrictions created by SB 1350, during the 2018 legislative session the city of Sedona took the lead in advancing SB 1382, signed by Gov. Ducey in April 2018, which ensured that all online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and Home Away would be responsible for collecting and remitting sales and bed taxes on behalf of their short-term rental owner clients. This change will result in significant additional revenues to the city of Sedona.
In May 2019, in response to complaints about “party houses,” the governor signed House Bill 2672 to prohibit short-term rentals from being used for special events that would normally require a permit, and allows cities to collect contact information for the person responsible for addressing complaints about a property prior to a property being used as a rental. The bill allows for the application of civil penalties for proven violations of city codes and also requires online lodging marketplaces to display the owner’s Transaction Privilege Tax number.
Short-term rentals have become big business across the United States and worldwide. According to a March 2019 story in the online journal Wired, the marketing forum Airbnb – one of many such brokerages on the Web – offers 6 million places to stay in more than 191 countries, with listings outnumbering the top six hotel chains combined. Forbes magazine, in an article published in February, predicted that in the coming years “investors who see the revenue potential in short-term rentals (rather than the traditional long-term leases) will continue to buy up properties in locations that double as a hub for both urban short-term rentals and traditional vacation rentals.”
The Sedona City Council continues to work with statewide organizations and state legislators to address concerns about short-term rentals and whether or how cities can enforce rules to protect neighborhoods, public safety and ensure responsible and safe business operations.
There are many property owners in Sedona for whom short-term rentals provide an important source of income for themselves and their families, and who maintain and operate their properties responsibly.
If you happen to live near a property that is a problem, I’d like to offer some resources.
For noise issues, call the Sedona Police Department at (928) 282-3100. The city does have noise ordinances and our officers will respond to ensure that issues are addressed.
For non-emergency problems such as violations of our dark sky / light ordinances, parking violations, pet or property maintenance concerns, use the city’s online Report It tool. When you report problems online, our code enforcement team will inspect the situation, contact the property owner and set a date by which violations must be corrected. Visit our website, give us the what-and-where information, upload a photo if you wish, and then track the progress as we respond to your complaint. Visit sedonaaz.gov/reportit.
I also encourage you, when possible, to take the time to educate visitors you see in your neighborhood about protecting Sedona’s beautiful environment, sustainable practices off and on the trails, and about safety and Sedona’s community norms, including wildfire prevention. Many visitors from other areas simply have no experience with wildfires, as we do here in the West.
If you have feelings about short-term rentals and whether or not they need more – or less – community-based oversight, your comments are best directed to the elected officials who are responsible for shaping Arizona law:
Gov. Doug Ducey
Sen. Sylvia Allen
Rep. Bob Thorpe
Rep. Walter Blackman