City Attorney Clarifies Planning and Zoning Meeting From Tuesday

May 3, 2018

 

 

Tuesday night’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and public hearing was chalk-full of concerned citizens stepping up to the podium to speak up about the proposed Vacation Home Rental (VHR) ordinance change. Mostly about how the City has allowed apartment complexes to transfer over to VHRs. Some spoke about how people are being evicted from their apartments to make room for VHRs; their concerns that they will be the next family to lose their home due to VHRs, and to voice their concerns about how the City needs to stop allowing VHRs into Page. We will get to this last point further in the article. First, what were the results from the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting?

 

In a move that left many citizens hopeful, the Commission tabled all the Conditional Use Permit applications and renewals that were on the agenda until they can meet again next week. However, not everything had been tabled Tuesday night. The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously voted to send the proposed ordinance change to the City Council as-is, which allows the City Council to vote on the proposed change to the ordinance.

 

What is the proposed change? LPNN sat down and spoke with City Attorney Joshua Smith at length regarding the meeting Tuesday night and the proposed change, and what it means for the City of Page if the City Council votes to adopt it.

 

Why the proposed change to the current ordinance?

 

According to City Attorney Smith, the proposed change to the current ordinance is to bring the City’s “definition in line with the State’s definition and restrict [VHRs] as much as [the City] can; if Council passes the ordinance”.

 

City Attorney Smith believes “the primary motivation behind the draft ordinance, is the apartment complex issue and having apartment complexes that are converting or are rumored to be converting or considering” converting to VHR status. “There have been a lot of members of the public that have reached out to the City and Staff with concerns about losing their housing; people in apartment complexes that are being told they are going to be evicted.”

 

City Attorney Smith also believes the State of Arizona, in passing regulation for vacation rentals, did not “…intend to allow apartment complexes to convert to vacation rentals”.

 

What are the proposed changes to the ordinance?

 

The proposed changes eliminate the wording of the current Vacation Home Rental ordinance and adopts the wording of Arizona State Statute (ARS) §9-500.39 which only requires that if someone wants a VHR they have to have an emergency contact on file; and have to comply with State statute.

 

A link to the copy of the proposed changes to the VHR ordinance have been added to the bottom of the article.

 

Why is the City not doing more to regulate and prevent VHRs within Page?

 

The only regulation any city within Arizona can place upon VHRs is to determine whether or not the residence and the owner meet the guidelines as identified in the State statute. Ultimately, the City’s hands are tied in this situation, unless something changes at the State level.

 

Mr. Smith stated “State legislature has really limited what we [the City] can regulate, and said ‘look cities, you can’t regulate these’ when it comes to Vacation Home Rentals. They have carved out a special exception for vacation rentals and decided that they’re going to treat them differently and the State, for some reason, feels the need to protect that.”

 

What this means is that the City cannot, based on State statute, regulate who is allowed to operate a Vacation Home Rental, or how many VHRs are within a city.

 

According to the information from Mr. Smith, when implementing this law, the State of Arizona added additional wording that is specific to city governments throughout Arizona. The first two sentences of the statute, ARS §9-500.39 specifically state:

 

                      A. A city or town may not prohibit vacation rentals or short-term rentals.

                      B. A city or town may not restrict the use of or regulate vacation rentals or                                    short-term rentals based on their classification, use or occupancy.

 

When asked if this means the City’s hands are tied when it pertains to limiting and regulating VHRs throughout Page, Mr. Smith stated “Absolutely 100% tied by the legislature”.

 

We have also added a link to ARS §9-500.39 at the end of this article.

 

Where do we go from here?

 

To start, the City Council has to vote on the proposed ordinance. It should be on the agenda for next Wednesday’s public meeting.

 

LPNN will follow-up with Mr. Smith if the proposed changes are approved by the City Council so we can provide you, our viewers, the information you need on how this will affect VHRs throughout Page.

 

What can you do?

 

City Attorney Smith informed LPNN, “If the citizens really want to be involved and effect change and how the city regulates vacation rentals they need to contact their state legislators.”

 

Remember, the City can only do what the State allows them to; and in this instance, it is not much.  

 

The State Legislators for Page (District 7) are: 

 

House of Representatives

 

Wenona Benally (D)

Email: WBenally@azleg.gov

(602) 926-5172

 

Eric Descheenie (D)

Email: EDescheenie@azleg.gov

(602) 926-4846

 

Senate

Jamescita Peshlakai (D)

Email: JPeshlakai@azleg.gov

(602) 926-5160

 

 

For the Conditional Use Permits that were on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s agenda on 05/01/18 and were tabled, the plan at the end of the meeting was to meet next Tuesday (05/08/2018), but as of the writing of this article, there has been no official update on the City’s schedule.

 

ARS 9-500.39

 

Proposed Ordinance Changes

 

Article has been updated to reflect City Attorney Joshua Smith's belief that the State did not intent to allow apartments to convert to vacation rentals.

 

 

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