By Tommy Acosta
Sedona News — Some might have called it a great informational meeting. Others may have called it an exercise in futility. Some might say it was a little bit of both.
We are talking about the September 22 short-term rental community event at the OLLI Yavapai Community College sponsored by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and the Sedona Lodging Council.
It was well attended with more than 100 souls in attendance.
The City of Sedona was well represented with Sedona City Attorneys Kurt Christianson, Sedona City Manager Karen Osburn speaking on the issue.
Chamber CEO/President Candace Carr Strauss and Sedona Lodging Council President Steve Segner also spoke.
The meeting was facilitated by Andrea Christelle.
The aforementioned parties discussed the facts and myths about the city’s current sort term rental crisis.
The audience was mixed in its opposition or support of short-term rentals with about a third of those in attendance in favor of Airbnb’s.
The city and the chamber painted grim pictures of the proliferation od short-term rentals, citing the negative impact such rentals are having in the community and the exacerbation of parking, traffic, loss of sense of community and the impact it has had on affordable workforce housing.
One of the most sobering statistics was noted by Osburn where a 445 sg. ft. apartment is now costing $2,000 a month to rent and the medium rental price in Sedona stands close to $6,000 per month, with about only twelve rentals available in the city as of the date of the meeting.
Speakers covered the affect of these short-term rentals on the affordability of long term rentals. They also covered the impact they are starting to have on hotels resorts ad business as well, because workers can’t find housing in town and are not coming into Sedona to work, putting a tremendous strain on the hospitality business.
Strauss noted that if the trend continues with hotels losing customers this could affect the amount of bed tax collections and impact the city in the future.
Christianson made it pretty clear that Arizona’s Senate Bill 1350 that gave property owners the right to rent space in their homes, pretty much has tied the hands of the city as far as enforcing few restrictions, with The Private Property Rights Protection Act (Proposition 207) looming over it all should the city cause property owners to lose property value because of any negative action by it.
A number of cosmetic approaches to getting a better grip on the proliferation were discussed, such as forcing property owners to provide the city with emergency contact numbers. Still, pretty most other alternatives are stymied by the logistics involved and the laws on record.
As an example, homeowners are not allowed to turn their garages into living quarters but if one is suspected of doing so, it would take a judge to make an order to allow the city to go in and inspect.
Not likely, according to Osburn.
Bizely, who not only advertises short-term rentals but also runs a number of properties, agreed that there should be more cooperation between the city and short-term renters and that he would strive to lessen the negative impact short-term rentals have on the community.
As it stands now, whole house rentals that are basically just investments can go from just a business decision to a radical conversion of a house into a quasi hotel. They can have upwards of 20 or more people in the house, with improvements designed to create bedrooms out of spaces not designed for such, and in one case put six queen bunkbeds, enough for 12 adults in one room.
By the meeting’s end, it was agreed by the parties standing against the short-term rentals that the only way anything meaningful could be accomplished is through the state legislature.
Again, it appears the only course of action for all parties involved, until the state legislature could be lobbied to change the law, is to work together to mitigate the problem as it continues to blister.
The best we could hope for at this stage of the game is to work with the property owners to inform short-term renters on how to behave and give the city council every tool available to partner with builders to create workforce housing.
Watch the video of the entire two-hour meeting here below.
Keep in mind that the city collects sales tax for all rentals. The amount the city gets is not available to the public.
Tyler, you are very correct, but let me add more to your thought. The city also gets a transient tax that by state law a % must be spent on advertising!
The other part is that Before the law was passed, Sedona city officials did not allow short term rentals…
Now the cat is out of the bag, big business, Corporations, and some wealthy people have blow up the Sedona housing market..
I urge everyone when they are out to ask the server, mechanic, clerk, where they live? How much do you pay?…..I think the average older person in this town has no idea the negative effect this has had on are whole community!
This is another self inflicted wound brought to you by Doug Ducey!
There are two types of owners of short term rentals in Sedona. If you own and live in a home and rent out a room or two, it is quite profitable and beneficial. This extra income can cover the cost of ownership plus some. For some, it’s like having a good job. I think the original intent of the 1350 was just that, to create a new source of income to benefit the owner who lived in the home. I think it’s a good idea.
The other type of owner is the investor who saw the opportunity to acquire a home and covert it into what I call a “mini-hotel,” hire a management company to do all the work of upkeep and care and feeding of the guests, and sit back and rake in the profits. In some cases, the profits are hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for just one home.
There are over 700 of these whole house rentals in Sedona from what I understand. And about one third of them are owned by local residents, a third are from other areas of Arizona and a third are live elsewhere in the U.S. I don’t believe the state legislature and governor ever thought they would be turning so many homes into hotels in the midst of residential neighborhoods and substantially contributing to a serious rental housing and workforce crisis. Short Term rental properties are now 12% of Sedona’s housing stock which is increasing every month. Let’s be honest, these “investors” knew the city couldn’t do anything about it and view their “safe” investment just like buying stock or gold; a great way to make money. I’m sure they are happy finding such a great loop-hole in the system.
@ Al, I wont disagree with anything you said….The politicians knew exactly what they were doing as they were getting great campaign money!
And the most important part about that is that only 4 cities in all of AZ. didnt allow short term rentals…..Half of those are here in the Verde Valley, Sedona, and Jerome!
I have never met anyone complain about the home owner renting a room in the house they live in!
I know of 7 properties that have been built or just about finished that have between 8 to 10 bedrooms built just for short term rentals….
Its a mess and only 4 cities in Arizona paid for such a bone headed law!
I attended the meeting on zoom, but was interrupted about 15 times, so thank you for this discussion.
I’m a Realtor in Sedona. Most of my clients are people who want to move to Sedona and transition to retirement, or move to Verde Valley to have a better life from the hustle of where they are fleeing. But I am writing offers for people who want to live here that are being beat out by investors who create short term rentals. It’s very discouraging for all , a lot of buyers eventually give up.
I have been living g in this area for 25 years. When I first moved here i paid $650 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment. I made $22000 a year. Now I make $27000 a year and to rent the same apartment would cost me 3x that yet my income did not increase 3x. This is what STR and out of state investors have done to the average hard working citizen. I was smart enough to buy some land elsewhere before the prices shot up nationwide and will be leaving eventually. This is also a direct result of the housing crisis. I am a live in caregiver. When he passes I will have no choice.
I started doing short term rentals LONG before SB1350 . Most who live/worked in Sedona 10+ years ago were aware of “The List” of available short term rentals in the area. I remember it being posted in the break room where I used to work – there was a salesclerk in Tlaquepaque who kept it up-to-date and a local psychic who coordinated efforts of finding new listings. Most of the listings were $25 to $50/night and the potential renter would call the homeowner directly to make reservations. I rented my guesthouse for $40/night, but reservations were spotty.
Of course once SB1350 was passed, I put my guesthouse on the website for $90/night and immediately began enjoying the extra money I was making – which I used for some deferred maintenance around my home. I was always fully booked and rarely had any open dates. I also noticed my neighbors had also opened their home to Airbnb guests and soon everyone had nicer looking yards and freshly painted homes.
But a year or so ago I became aware that Airbnb donated $500k to Black Lives Matter = a group that was burning, looting, and making “zones” in big cities. BLM wants the police defunded and has destroyed many areas causing Billions of dollars in property damage, while trespassing on public lands for their “zones.” I removed my listing because I believe ALL lives matter and I do not want to finance the take-down and take-over of America by a bunch of racists thugs. My guesthouse is now leased to a long-term resident who is VERY happy to have a place they can afford that is close to their work.
Airbnb sounds good in theory, but when corporations come in to make home-hotels in quiet residential areas and overbid young families who wish to live, work and play in this beautiful city, it is not a good practical idea. The Airbnb company is run by leftists communists who not only bully their homeowners with ridiculous rules and wish for vaccine passports, but also destroy neighborhoods with home-hotels.
I suggest that any homeowner listing with Airbnb remove their listing and rent long-term to a local – or – list their property on ANY OTHER AGENCY such as VRBO until the time comes when we can pass a law that ONLY on-site homeowners can rent out rooms or if not on-site they can ONLY rent for 30-days at a time .