Arizona Senate Votes to Ban Cities from Banning Airbnb, Couch-Surfing

A view of the Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix.  In the foreground stands a replica of the Liberty Bell, donated in 1950.  Designed by J. Riely Gordon and constructed between 1898 and 1901, the building served as the terriorrial capitol until Arizona was granted statehood in 1912.  The building continued to serve as the state capitol, but the building eventually proved to be too small and cramped for the growing state.  Eventually, all official government functions moved out of the building: the Legislature to adjoining buildings in 1960 and the Executive Branch to an adjoining tower in 1974.  The original capitol, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, now stands as a museum while the state continues to ponder a long-term solution for a capitol more suitable to the modern age.

A new bill approved by the Arizona Senate on Tuesday would bar cities, towns and counties from prohibiting short-term rentals. Sponsored by Sen. Debbie Lesko, the bill, SB 1350, passed the state senate overwhelmingly, with just one vote against it.

SB 1350 would provide welcome relief for property owners under siege by government busybodies. Last year, an official in Yavapai County warned that roughly 1,000 people could be illegally renting out their properties. In Jerome, officials announced a ban on short-term vacation rentals. According to attorneys at the Goldwater Institute, who are representing affected property owners, “homeowners face a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each day they violate the town’s new edict.”

Read More: Virginia Lawmaker Tried To Legalize Airbnb—Then Lobbyists Got Involved

But by providing side income and more affordable accommodations, short-term rentals benefit thousands of people in the state. According to a report by Airbnb, 5,000 people hosted 131,000 guests using the short-term rental service last year in Arizona. On average, guests spent 3.7 nights on an Airbnb property, while a typical host earned about $4,000 from the site.

If enacted, SB 1350 would allow municipalities to regulate vacation rental properties so long as the restrictions are “narrowly tailored” to matters like fire and building codes and public health and sanitation. It also would require sites that host short-term rentals to collect taxes from hosts.

SB 1350 is not the only common-sense reform under consideration by Arizona lawmakers. Last month, the House voted unanimously to legalize potlucks hosted at home.

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