Gov. Doug Ducey Gilbert Mayor Jen Daniels

During an appearance before the Arizona League of Cities last month in Tucson with Gilbert Mayor Jen Daniels, Gov. Doug Ducey suggested he'd be open to fine-tuning a ban on local laws controlling short-term rentals.

Local Scottsdale officials have applauded Gov. Doug Ducey’s recent comments concerning short-term rentals.

While in Tucson at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns annual conference last month, Ducey opened the door to the possibility that the state could amend rules put in place by a restrictive 2016.

The 2016 legislation prohibited local governments from regulating short-term rentals popularized by services like Airbnb and VRBO.

Ducey told reporters the law had some unintended consequences and has resulted in disruption in some neighborhoods as real estate investors bought up properties for the sole purpose of using them as short-term rentals, according to Howard Fischer with Capitol Media Services.

“It does appear in the situation of Airbnb and other organizations that we have some people out there that are doing some things that are disruptive to communities,’’ Ducey said.

Ducey’s comments came on the heels of a discussion in Scottsdale over potential new rules to curb nuisance parties throughout the city — many of which take place at short-term rentals, according to testimony from residents.

At a meeting on the proposed ordinance, residents complained of partiers at short-term rentals leaving trash in the streets, playing music until the early morning hours, drug use and public drunkenness. 

The proposed ordinance would include fines for property owners and responsible parties if Scottsdale Police respond to a nuisance party where drugs are found or minors are consuming alcohol.

Though the 2016 law prohibits cities and towns from regulating or banning short-term rentals, the new proposed nuisance ordinance would be allowed, because it applies to all property owners in Scottsdale, not just those operating rentals.

Ducey has repeatedly affirmed his support for the 2016 law, arguing it protects private property owners from interference by overly-burdensome local legislation.

Mayor Jim Lane told the Progress he was generally supportive of giving property owners the freedom to share or rent out their homes as they see fit.

But Lane said the Governor’s comments were well-received by local leaders at the conference, because of the commercialization of the short-term rental industry.

“Given the greater commercialization of the shared home/house (short-term rental) concept, the mayors and councilmembers of cities where the issue is of some significant consequence and impact to neighborhoods, there is a realization the concept is evolving into an entirely new arena of business in residential neighborhoods,” Lane said.

Lane indicated he and others plan to work closely with lawmakers to address local complaints.

“There is a developing plan by municipal mayors and council members to work with the Governor and Legislature in a bipartisan manner to discuss and offer options to address our residential neighborhoods’ concerns,” Lane said.

At a city presentation about the proposed nuisance ordinance, many residents asked the city to go a step further and ban short-term rentals — something the city cannot do under the 2016 law.

You need to just put a stop to these Airbnbs altogether,” one resident said.

City staff and Council member Solange Whitehead encouraged residents at the time to contact their state representatives with their complaints and ask for a change to state law.

Whitehead, who called the 2016 law “anti-community,” praised the Governor’s recent comments.

“The (short-term rental) law took control and protection of neighborhoods away from local governments,” Whitehead said. “In short order, we’ve seen entire neighborhoods get destroyed. That was not the Governor’s intention, and I applaud his recognition of the unintended consequences.”

Whitehead indicated she would like to see the state return power over regulating Airbnbs and similar rentals to the city.

“I believe state governments should never try to govern neighborhoods,” Whitehead said. “That is our job at City Hall and restoring local control is the best path forward.”

The state did recently give limited power back to cities to regulate short-term rentals under a law sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, who represents Scottsdale.

Cities can now require property owners operating short-term rentals to keep emergency contact information on file with the city. The law also requires those property owners to have a state transaction privilege tax license.