Arizona lawmaker who owns $1M Airbnb property seeks to block local regulations

Posted Mar 15, 2022, 7:37 am

Jerod MacDonald-EvoyArizona Mirror

Gilbert Republican Sen. WarrenPetersen wants the attorney general to investigate an ordinance passedby Paradise Valley that regulates short-term home rentals, which he saysviolates state law, while the lawmaker himself owns a million-dollarluxury Airbnb listing in Gilbert.

If Petersen’s complaint is successfulin striking down the Paradise Valley ordinance, it would effectivelyblock other cities and municipalities from pursuing other similarordinances, including in Gilbert, where Petersen’s Airbnb is located.

Petersen’s listing, discovered by Arizona Mirror,goes for $557 a night and can sleep up to nine people, according to thelisting by “Warren” along with a photo of the senator.

In a text message to the Mirror, Petersensaid he doesn’t believe it’s a conflict of interest to own an Airbnbwhile also filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s Officeregarding regulations of short-term rentals. He emphasized his beliefthat Paradise Valley is violating state law with its regulations.

Petersen filed the complaint against Paradise Valleyover an ordinance the town passed earlier this year to rein inso-called “party houses.” The company Airbnb was a major player in thepushback against the ordinance.

The challenge is known as an SB1487complaint, named after a 2016 law that permits any legislator to ask theattorney general to review an action by any municipality or county ifthey believe that action violates state law. If the attorney generalfinds a violation, the offending law must be repealed or the violatorloses the money it receives from state income tax revenues, which, forParadise Valley, would be about $1.6 million, according to the League ofArizona Cities and Towns.

Peterson said he didn’t intend to operate the house as a vacation rental for the long term.

 Arizona lawmaker who owns  M Airbnb property seeks to block local regulations

“Furthermore I listed about a monthago as a regular rental. Likely not going to be a vacation rentalsometime within the next six months,” Petersen said to the Mirror, adding, “None of us should be okay when the cities break the law.”

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Petersen has argued that the ParadiseValley ordinance passed in late January goes beyond what’s permitted bya state law passed in 2016 that restricts municipalities’ ability toregulate short-term rentals within their borders.

In 2016, the Arizona legislaturepassed a bill that prohibited municipalities from enacting regulationson STRs except in specific circumstances. It was touted by Gov. Doug Ducey and other lawmakers at the time as boosting the short-term rental market, though Ducey has said since that lawmakers will “revisit”short-term rental regulations after a string of complaints from citiesand towns that find themselves with no way to go after bad actors.

The ordinance requires propertyowners to be on site for certain events, meet their guests within onehour of them arriving at the property, do a background check on everyguest, provide the owner’s name and contact information to the town,install a landline telephone, prove that the guest has acknowledged therules and regulations set by the town, clean the air filters every threemonths and more.

Petersen contends that the ordinanceviolates that law because it imposes different requirements on specificshort-term rentals, has new “significant” obligations for them and“​​increases regulatory burdens on businesses by subjecting platforms tonew liability and disclosure requirements in violation of state andfederal law.”

When asked if owning such a largeAirbnb property could be seen as a conflict due to his property possiblybeing affected by a ruling, Petersen dismissed such concerns.

“I don’t think Gilbert would break the law,” Petersen said.

Petersen’s Airbnb is well reviewed by those who have stayed there.

“The backyard was so fun and everyoneloved the water slide,” Juliet wrote, adding “Warren was great atcommunicating and the house was very clean!”

The 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home doesn’t allow for parties, pets or smoking, but does include a three-car garage, rock-climbing wall, trampoline and heated pool.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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