County News

While the nation was taking in the results of a hotly-contested presidential election, the Village of Oakcreek Association was dealing with one of its own.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, the VOCA board met to discuss and announce the results of a ballot sent to each of its members regarding short-term vacation rentals. Until this summer, short-term rentals were banned in Yavapai County [similar to the ban in Sedona]. However, Senate Bill 1350 was signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, which overrode any county or city law. However, HOAs were not included in the legislation and remain in a position to regulate themselves, one way or the other.

Despite the 2 p.m. start, the VOCA meeting featured a nearly packed house. Once the votes were tallied, 564 were in favor of banning short-term rentals within VOCA, while 452 were in favor of allowing it. The amount of the fines for those who are found guilty of breaking this rule [based on resident complaints and follow-up] will be determined before the first of the year.

“All these fines seem totally stupid to me and the people I’ve talked to,” said one man, who received applause from many in the room.

The vote came following more than 30 minutes of spirited debate among the members of the audience and the board. The majority of those who spoke or yelled out their opinions were in favor of allowing short-term rentals, citing the economic benefit to the community.

VOCA board president Earl Svenningsen was out of town on business and was unable to attend the meeting. Because of his absence, Vice President Robert Schaefer ran the meeting.

“Senate Bill 1350 applies to cities and towns, it does not apply to HOAs,” Schaefer said. “The intent of 1350 was to leave HOAs out because those in HOAs have the right to say that we don’t want short-term rentals or commercial operations next to my house where I live.”

Some in the audience expressed concern that the board stated its desire to see the ban on short-term rentals continue through information sent to members. This countered newspaper ads and fliers left on mail boxes from an anonymous group who were in favor of allowing this practice. Information from those in favor say that short-term rentals pump millions of dollars in the VOC economy and that by banning it, could impact property values by as much as 10 percent.

“The board didn’t tell anyone to vote for it — the board just said it’s in favor of it [ban],” Vice President Jan Lisowski said. “It’s up to you to make up your own mind. The board is not going to make your mind up for you.”

One woman said that she and others have been renting their homes for years [despite it being a violation of county code] and that they are now willing to abide by the law, which includes getting proper licensing and paying taxes. She said she doesn’t over-book her home and that her renters are clean, quiet, courteous and fit into the neighborhood.

However, another woman opposed said she has had to deal with trespassing, peeping Toms, theft and constant partying from those renting her neighbor’s house.

“This has been a horrendous experience,” she said.

Earlier this week, Svenningsen said VOCA did not have this ban within its covenants, conditions and restrictions. However, every homeowner within VOCA received a CC&R compliance, regulations and information booklet that addressed VOCA compliance regulations.

In that booklet, Section 9 states, “In addition, the owner shall in no event rent or lease to a tenant or guest for a period of less than 30 consecutive days. Rental of less than 30 days are a violation of Yavapai County Ordinances and any violations will be referred to the Yavapai County Compliance Officer.”

Svenningsen said currently on the books, first and second notices of violation do not carry with them fines for owners of short-term rentals. A third notice carries with it a $50 fine with the owner having the right to appeal. A fourth and final notice carries a fine of $100, which shall be assessed every 30 days until the violation is resolved.

As for the new fine structure, Svenningsen added, “Since this amendment passed, I expect the Architectural Review Committee to recommend to the board the fine amounts. At the Nov. 30 monthly board meeting, the board will discuss the fine amounts and approve them. The ban on short-term rentals is immediate, but the fines will commence with the board’s approval on Nov. 30.”


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