Guest Editorial: A Bad Trip

By Alexander Lomax

The honeymoon of Mayor Dave Ortega’s first year in office has continued, as one of his campaign talking points is now coming to the forefront: the City Council will soon be considering regulations on short-term rentals. Many homeowners know this problem first-hand; out-of-towners renting a home in their neighborhood to get away and enjoy our good weather and amenities, only to let themselves go, party late into the night, and cause a ruckus for those who actually live nearby.

I find this issue to be incredibly interesting for two reasons: one, it is a perfect example of the struggle between local control and more centralized control, and two, it also covers the intersection of tourism and community, one which is particularly salient in Scottsdale.

This is not a new issue for many neighborhoods, but it could easily be considered most relevant for Scottsdale considering its status as the tourism center of Maricopa County. State Representative John Kavanagh had previously sponsored a bill giving more power to local municipalities to provide oversight and regulations (it went nowhere). The evergreen issue with legislators and lawmakers however is that they NEVER want to give up power, as little as they may wield it. Local control is nothing but a buzzword given by politicians in order to get elected and soon to be abandoned when it means that they need to loosen their grip of power on anything.

Additionally, this move may have significant implications on tourism in Scottsdale. While adoption has shifted as more people get comfortable with these services, apps like Airbnb have traditionally been used more by early technology adopters, most often those under 40. Similarly, I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that those under 40 are most likely to throw loud parties and be out of control. Will restrictions make Scottsdale less of a desirable place to vacation with the younger crowd? And is that even a problem? I tend to believe that most of our storefronts who depend on tourism generally prefer older, more well-heeled tourists instead of younger tourists with less disposable income, nightlife venue operators notwithstanding.

One thing is certain, however; this is a big dollar issue with significant ramifications for these home-sharing services, the people who own the homes being rented, and the hospitality and tourism industry. I’m sure that there have been and will be many tense phone calls and lobbying efforts already underway.