Guest Editorial: STR’s By the Numbers

By Councilmember Betty Janik

We have come a long way since the 2021 Short-Term Rental Working Group (which I co-chaired) identified opportunities for Scottsdale to establish and enforce regulations to reduce nuisance short-term rentals (STR’s). All were adopted by City Council. Fast forward to July 2022, SB1168 provided additional opportunities to rein in unruly STR properties that cause disturbances in our community. STR owners in Scottsdale are required to obtain local licenses and permits that include owner biographical and emergency contact information. Additionally, they must comply with several safety, health and neighborhood notification requirements. We also increased fines for noncompliance and established parameters for permit suspension. This is in addition to the county and state regulations codified in SB1168.

Scottsdale has made significant progress in the implementation of these strengthened regulations. As of June 4, there have been 3,791 short-term rental applications submitted, and 3,317 licenses approved. In the last two weeks there were 21 applications submitted, and 53 applications approved. The remainder of 474 are pending, incomplete, withdrawn or cancelled. Code enforcement has issued 2861 notices of violation – 2293 cases have been closed while 568 remain open. This has been accomplished with 3 fulltime staff members including 2 code inspectors and a licensing specialist. We still have work to do since various sources estimate that there are closer to 5000 STR’s in our community. We are depending on our citizens to help us identify and report suspected STR’s.

Council and staff recently received an update from Police Chief Walther outlining enhanced police responses to calls for service at nuisance STR’s. In the past, all nuisance party calls for service were grouped together as a call priority 8 (lower response). However, with the current emerging pattern of violence at certain STR locations, the response priority has been elevated to level 4 for STR’s. This will shorten response times considerably, and should reduce the number of complaints and associated violence.

It is important to note that Short Term Rental Squads have been established with the goal of having 2 police officers assigned to each squad along with a code enforcement agent. However, due to shortages in police staffing, this goal has not been fully achieved. It is estimated that the squad program will be at full staff by 2024. To compensate for the shortage, overtime hours for responding police have been approved during popular party times.

The vast majority of STR’s operate in accordance with the rules and regulations. The STR’s do provide a valuable asset for families visiting Scottsdale and for Scottsdale as well. It is estimated that STR’s generated $87 million in taxes for our state between 2017 and 2020, some of which made its way into Scottsdale’s general fund. However, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch. A small number of STR’s cause the majority of problems. There is nothing more upsetting than having a STR destroy the peaceful enjoyment of your home and neighborhood. We are actively working on weeding out the offenders. We need everyone’s cooperation. Please report STR problems.

Of note, The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is working on a policy for state adoption that would limit the number of STR’s in a defined area with rental caps, density caps, and/or separation requirements.

Register your STR or file a complaint:

Complaint Hot Line: 480-312-rent