Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk SB 1350 neighborhood concerns

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Paradise Valley voters will hit the polls Tuesday, Aug. 30 to elect three members to town council while also electing a mayor.

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins, who is running unopposed, is seeking re-election while four council candidates are seeking one of three seats. Paradise Valley council candidates are: Scott Moore, Julie Pace, Mark Stanton and Daran Wastchak.

To be elected at the primary, candidates must receive a majority of the total valid ballots cast. The town’s races will be consolidated with the county, state and federal races appearing on the same ballot and this year the municipality will not be holding an all-mail election, according to Town Clerk Duncan Miller.

In partnership with Cullum Homes and Rose, Moser & Allyn Public and Online Relations, the Town of Paradise Valley Independent is hosting a town council candidate forum at The Village at Mountain Shadows from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.

The forum will be moderated by North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton and will feature opening statements, a debate of local topics that matter and an opportunity for audience involvement.

This week’s question-and-answer installment asks council candidates how a new law — SB 1350 — may impact the established hotel marketplace and tranquility of Paradise Valley neighborhoods.

Senate Bill 1350, sponsored by Arizona Senate Majority Whip Debbie Lesko (R), goes into effect at the end of calendar year 2016 and restricts local cities and towns from being able to regulate or restrict the use of vacation rentals or short-term rentals within municipal boundaries.

City leaders at the Town of Paradise Valley and city of Scottsdale share common concerns about short-term rental services meant to disrupt the hotel marketplace. Municipal leaders say the only thing disrupted by services such as Airbnb and others is the established quality of life in both communities while tourism officials appear reticent to make any comment on the matter — one way or the other.

This is what candidates for Paradise Valley Town Council say on the matter:

Mark Stanton

•How do you interpret SB 1350 and do your believe that it poses a legitimate threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Mark Stanton

Mark Stanton

I believe that SB 1350 (AirBnB Bill) does pose a significant and legitimate threat to our quality of life in Paradise Valley. SB 1350 takes away local government control from our town, so there is no easy way for Paradise Valley to manage, regulate or enforce code compliance on short-term rentals.

The Online Lodging Marketplace is a fast growing industry, and in most cases, provides a reasonable lodging alternative for consumers. That said, we have seen increased issues related to short-term rental properties in Paradise Valley being rented out as single-night or weekend event locations. The issues with these short-term rentals include, noise, traffic, parking, trash and in some cases, criminal activity. In fact, one group of neighbors documented 3 busloads of college-age revelers arriving at a rental property for a Saturday night party earlier this summer.

Not only do some short-term rentals used for events create public safety and quality of life issues, they also create a negative impact on Paradise Valley’s Resort and Hospitality partners which are so important to the financial stability of the town.

SB 1350 takes away local government control from Paradise Valley and significantly limits the Town’s ability to manage the growing issues related to short-term rentals, which is a serious threat to our quality of life.

•If elected, how will you allay resident concerns about short-term rental properties and potential uses for those properties within Town limits?

As a town council member, I have worked closely on this issue with my colleagues and town staff to find ways to mitigate the negative impact created by SB 1350.

Toward that end, I have been part of a town council sub-committee looking at short-term rental issues. As part of that focus, I have held neighborhood meetings, worked with tourism industry leadership, and collaborated with town staff to find police, code enforcement, legal and legislative options and solutions.
From those efforts we have developed an action plan that includes using online tracking to see what houses in Paradise Valley are available for short-term rental and how they are being marketed (i.e. monthly rental, event/weeding venue, etc.). We have evaluated business license and special event permitting procedures and established a Paradise Valley Police Department protocol when responding to noise, parking, traffic and other complaints at short-term rental properties. This protocol includes asking specific questions of the occupants and gathering other information, which will be shared with town code enforcement and the town attorney for potential action, including prosecution.

If re-elected, this issue will remain an important priority. I will continue to work with Paradise Valley residents, my fellow council members, town staff, League of Cities & Towns and the Arizona Legislature to find a better solution and help restore local government control in support of our quality of life.

Julie Pace

•How do you interpret SB 1350 and do your believe that it poses a legitimate threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Julie Pace

Julie Pace

Yes, the new statute adversely impacts the quality of life in our town. The law mandates the existence of a short-term rental market in Paradise Valley.

The new law also affects Scottsdale and Sedona, which have precluded short term rentals for decades. The Arizona Legislature overrode local control and choices when enacting the law.
The law was enacted as a “striker amendment” so it did not go through the full hearing process at the Legislature.

Disturbingly, the law provides protections for online lodging marketplaces by restricting our town’s ability to obtain information about the rental operations within our town. Transparency for rental operations should be available and not a secret.

The new law provides that cities and towns can impose a transaction privilege tax, sales, or franchise tax, but with limitations. But, the law restricts the town’s ability to verify information for the business ventures in our town.

The new law allows residences to directly compete with our town’s resorts. Paradise Valley derives approximately 40 percent of its revenue from our exceptional resorts, which helps our town avoid any property tax. We must protect the unique experience Paradise Valley offers residents and the resorts.
Cities and towns will shoulder the increased expenses of extra police, fire and code enforcement relating to the short term rentals business. The new law could divert police, fire and code enforcement from other public duties when they deal with abusers. We must preserve our quality of life and the pristine environment for our neighbors and our world class resorts.

•If elected, how will you allay resident concerns about short-term rental properties and potential uses for those properties within Town limits?

The purpose of the new law was purportedly to ensure property rights of homeowners who wanted to rent out a bedroom or house for a short-term rental. It was not intended to convert private residences in our town into commercial properties.

Many of the short-term rental markets are operated by commercial enterprises in numerous locations. There is a potential for the law to be abused.

Our town’s codes protect against commercial uses such as converting a home to a wedding venue or party house. If a home crosses the threshold to becoming a commercial property, neighbors will be the first line of defense to observe changes and report them to our Town’s Code enforcement department.

Neighbors should strive to be good neighbors and communicate with each other if possible and avoid issues. Occasional visitors and an atmosphere of a tranquil environment is likely not going to cause concerns for neighbors. It is the abusers, party houses, commercial enterprises and mini-hotels that will cause concerns in neighborhoods.

HOAs and CC&Rs should trump the new law. I serve as a representative from the Stone Canyon neighborhood on our Mayor’s HOA Advisory Board and will evaluate options and implement strategies depending on a neighborhood’s goals.

Neighbors can utilize the following types of evidence, however, to assist the town in enforcing its codes and laws against abusers:
1.  Log dates, times, and descriptions of violations;
2.  Identify vehicles and license plates involved;
3.  Save information from camera systems;
4.  Obtain incident reports from security patrols;
5.  Capture photos or video of violations; and
6.  Contact the Police Department or town’s Code Enforcement.

Our town will need to vigorously enforce existing codes relating to violations by abusers including, but not limited to:
1.  Noise;
2.  Parking and traffic;
3.  Missing permit requirements for special events such as weddings or parties;
4.  Trash and debris;
5.  Disturbing the peace and other potential violations;
6.  Ensuring Business and Sales tax licenses are obtained;
7.  Seeking fees, costs, and fines against repeat violators; and
8.  Individuals may pursue potential injunction or lawsuits involving loss of enjoyment of a residence’s property if a party house pops up next door.

One town resident, a Realtor, who I spoke with already has endured far too much abuse with a repeat offender who has set up a party and wedding house without permits adjacent to the resident’s backyard. This situation caused the resident to lose the enjoyment of her own backyard and the serene Paradise Valley environment she has the right to enjoy.

As a town council member, I would commit to working with our legislators and government relations professionals to address some of the deficiencies in the new law, and work with the mayor and council members and staff to utilize tools we have to prevent abuses and preserve our quality of life.

Scott Moore

•How do you interpret SB 1350 and do your believe that it poses a legitimate threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Scott Moore

Scott Moore

While I understand the free-market goals of this legislation, I think it is unfortunate that the Arizona Legislature and the governor made the decision to take away local control from municipalities by prohibiting them from restricting the ability of property owners to rent out their homes, rooms — or even their couches — for short-term or vacation rentals. The Town of Paradise Valley is unique in the state of Arizona because we are predominately one-home-per-acre residential with world-class resorts nestled in playing an important role. Those attributes combined with the beauty of the mountains are what draw visitors and create uniqueness compared to other surrounding municipalities.

What works for our community is preventing short-term rental agreements in order to ensure our unique residential character and to support the resorts we rely on for revenue. That revenue helps support our town without the need for a property tax.

This may be the right solution for other communities statewide, but certainly a one-size-fits-all bill that prevents us from controlling business activity in our town was not the right decision for Paradise Valley. I have deep concerns over the effect it will have on our quality of life. Turning homes into a hotel business is not consistent with the vision of Paradise Valley.

•If elected, how will you allay resident concerns about short-term rental properties and potential uses for those properties within Town limits?

Resident concerns are legitimate, but we are bound to comply with state law. Therefore, we can only make sure our town staff is diligent in code enforcement, public safety and in working within the confines of the law to best protect Paradise Valley residents from negative impacts on their quality of life.
I will pledge to encourage my town council colleagues to continue working with other municipalities that also fought this bill along with Paradise Valley to hopefully address the negative impacts of the law in future legislative sessions.

Daran Wastchak

•How do you interpret SB 1350 and do your believe that it poses a legitimate threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Daran W

Daran W

The enactment of SB 1350 by the Arizona Legislature and governor is not only a legitimate threat to quality of life for Paradise Valley, as I’ve previously stated, it is potentially the biggest threat. To be clear, my concern is not with rental properties in Paradise Valley, which are for extended periods of time, such as one year or longer. These are renters who could reasonably claim to “live in Paradise Valley” and, therefore, would typically have a sense of community and sensitivity to how the way they live and manage their property impacts their neighbors.

This longevity of rental period is no guarantee of a good neighbor, just as home ownership is no guarantee. However, short-term renters are more likely to be bad neighbors and my assumption is that few, if any, PV residents would enjoy living next door to a revolving door of tenants. It’s not what I expected to deal with when I moved to Paradise Valley over 10 years ago, and I would not want to see any of my fellow Paradise Valley resident’s quality of life diminished by headaches resulting from a short term rental property in their neighborhood.

•If elected, how will you allay resident concerns about short-term rental properties and potential uses for those properties within Town limits?

As a member of the Paradise Valley Town Council, I will work hard to make amendments to SB 1350 so that the law allows cities and towns greater freedom to protect residents against the negative impacts of short-term rentals while still maintaining legitimate property rights for the owners of those properties. Efforts would include seeking help from state Lawmakers in Legislative Districts 28, 23 and 24, which represent Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and the Biltmore and Arcadia neighborhoods. There is further opportunity for collaboration with members of the Scottsdale City Council and also from the city of Phoenix District 6 Council member. In the interim, residents can take some comfort in the fact that the town is not powerless to manage short-term rental properties. The town will be able to monitor short term rentals, as they do all rentals, through the issuance of business licenses to collect the same sales and bed taxes that are paid by guests at Paradise Valley’s resorts.

These properties will also be required to adhere to all ordinances relating to parking, garbage disposal, lighting, and noise as well as restrictions against the use of a property for commercial purposes such as weddings, luncheons, and auctions. SB 1350 has certainly created a potential strain on quality of life in Paradise Valley, but as your representative on the town council, you can rest assured that this issue will be a priority for me and dealt with head on.

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