STRs Persist as Issue in Scottsdale, Will It Become an Election Hot-Button Again?

Short-term rentals (STRs) turned into a considerable campaign issue in 2020 as out-of-control parties became an issue in many Scottsdale neighborhoods, angering many constituents and igniting calls for change. It became one of the platform points for Dave Ortega’s successful run for Mayor that year, and while some changes have been made, it’s increasingly evident that it is still a major issue in the city.

This recent story, highlighting a presentation from the city, demonstrates how even with increased regulations the problem persists. Most notably, it is prevalent in south Scottsdale, where a stunning 70% of the city’s STRs reside. Maybe the most distressing aspect however is that perhaps the imposed regulations might even be having a negative impact.

One of the more notable statements from disgruntled residents was related to one of the city’s regulations: the need to interact with the property’s owners. In quite the litany of criticism, he stated that “they want me to work through the emergency contact of the property.” fearing that it  “would just degrade into an argument” and “facilitating in their sleazy and disruptive business model by running interference between them and the authorities.” Lastly, it “makes me and my wife feel like we are unpaid employees of the STR – playing lookout for their party pad”.

Ouch. Very, very Ouch.

It is worth noting that due to state regulations, the city was originally extremely hamstrung in their ability to regulate the industry, even in the face of serious local outcry, and it wasn’t until a state bill to loosen that grip and allow for some open control that any regulations could come forth, but it was nowhere near as much as most municipalities would have assumed. Paradise Valley attempted to regulate STRs too stringently and got punched down by then AG Brnovich, and other cities (including Scottsdale) followed suit and dialed back their regulations some.

Notable is the now-Mayor Ortega had significant success railing against unregulated STRs in his 2020 campaign. To his and the city council’s credit, they did act within the boundaries assigned to them and avoided costly lawsuits in the process, but it would appear that said regulations haven’t been effective enough, and contained side effects that were clearly unforeseen. Being on the front end of regulation for a new, nascent industry, it would be difficult to expect them to foresee any issues, so they receive some leeway.

That said, STRs will clearly be a talking point in next year’s elections, and candidates will need to figure out a way to refine current regulations and implement new ones within their abilities. The residents of south Scottsdale deserve that much.