Do you want affordable housing? Allow Arizona to regulate Airbnb-type rentals


Notice: Senate Bill 1350 prevents cities from regulating short-term rentals by AirBnb and others. Its elimination would help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing.

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the country, housing advocates are rushing to protect as many as half a million Arizonas eviction and foreclosure. And yet, as local governments scramble to increase affordable housing options, the state is preventing them from implementing an obvious solution: Airbnb regulation and other short term vacation rentals.

Short-term rentals have been a hot topic since 2016, when Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1350, allowing short-term rentals to operate in Arizona and preventing municipalities from governing the industry.

Communities in Maricopa County and elsewhere have vocally opposed the bill. Locals, especially in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, have long criticized the rowdy weekend vibe created by these rentals.

But the festivals were far from being the main concern of the inhabitants. In a county with only 20 affordable housing units

for 100 tenant households, short-term rentals remove the housing stock from the real estate market and raise the rent.

Investors turn resorts into weekend rentals

Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa contained more than 8,200 active short-term registrations at the time of writing, according to data analysis company AirDNA, and investors are known to return entire apartment complexes in weekend rentals, removing desperately needed affordable housing options.

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The affordable housing crisis in Maricopa County contributed to a crisis of evictions and foreclosures that resulted in at least 46,000 families put on the streets in 2018, according to New America, a DC think tank.

Economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 means quarter of adults in Arizona expect a member of their household have a loss of employment income over the next four weeks, and will likely push hundreds of thousands of new families into housing insecurity.

Arizona blocks cities from making rules

And yet, as local governments in the Valley of the Sun work to stabilize families and increase affordable housing options, the state legislature prevents them from implementing already identified remedies, such as regulation of short-term vacation rentals. This kind of state-level throttling – in this case via SB 1350 – is called preemption, and it’s a national issue.

Preemption occurs when a higher level of government limits or removes the power of a lower government to legislate on a certain issue. Recent history has shown that it is difficult to counter the laws of preemption, but not impossible.

Arizona voters proved it in 2016 with Proposition 206, a voting initiative that overshadowed the state’s preemption on the local minimum wage and guaranteed paid sick days to workers.

A broad coalition can overcome preemption

Elsewhere, Colorado last year repealed its preemption on local minimum wage ordinances, the first in the country to do so. The repeal campaign only took two sessions to succeed. Why? Experts close to the effort identified key strategies that helped to drop out

preemption, including building a diverse coalition of support and choosing a sponsor willing to work with experts.

Both can apply to the fight against SB 1350. The Arizona Housing Coalition is a great place to start, with its large and diverse membership from city governments, labor unions, banks, and nonprofits. . To add fuel, the hospitality industry is a natural ally in the fight to curb short-term rentals, as colocation platforms – with their ability to bypass zoning laws and some taxes – have been a thorn in the side. of the hospitality industry.

Business owners and community leaders, upset by the decrease in housing stock available to private and public workers, could also be powerful allies in the lobbying campaign. Advocates who strive to abandon state preemption over local rent control and inclusionary zoning ordinances can also be enlisted as partners on reciprocal terms.

Other ways to cancel the SB 1350

Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families, the organization behind Proposal 206, may also be willing to provide material or policy support.

A number of Arizona lawmakers have already sponsored bills to deal with SB 1350. If re-elected, one of them could coordinate with state legal and housing experts and across the country to develop a bill responsive to Arizona politics and autonomy laws, and to offer advice. on effective short-term rental policies.

If all else fails, there remains the option of the citizens’ initiative. Arizona does not (yet) have any signature distribution requirements for the initiatives, which means a move to address SB 1350 may be eligible due to its support in a few neighborhoods in the valley. only. After that, a majority of statewide β€œyes” votes is needed to approve the measure, but again, that’s far from impossible.

The pandemic has exacerbated Arizona’s affordable housing crisis, not just for the poorest residents, but for the middle class. While SB 1350 is not solely responsible for Arizona’s housing problems, releasing municipal authority over short-term rentals is a realistic first step toward creating and sustaining affordable housing at a critical time.

Tim Robustelli and Maresa Strano are policy analysts for the Future of Property Rights and Political Reform programs at New America, a Washington DC-based think tank that studies a wide range of public policy issues. Reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].

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