Julieanna Bottorff has lived in her quiet Sedona neighborhood for 20 years. A deer path that runs behind her house and across the street was regularly trafficked by wildlife. Then a developer moved in across the street and ripped up the path, she says. The developer plans to build as many as five 6,000-square-foot homes to be used as short- term rentals, neighbors say. The once quiet street is now punctuated with the steady noise of construction.
In January, City Manager Justin Clifton told The Arizona Republic there were more than 1,000 vacation rentals in the city, or about 20% of Sedona’s total housing inventory.
Residents across Arizona have raised complaints about increased noise, trash and traffic in their neighborhoods from the growing number of vacation rentals.
Sedona residents are pushing back against a state law that has brought an influx of short-term rentals into the city. One group that has managed to retain its regulatory power over short-term rentals is homeowners associations. The 2016 law only curbs cities and towns ability to regulate short-term rentals but says nothing about HOAs and individual neighbors taking action. As a result, several HOAs have managed to ban short-term rentals from operating in their neighborhoods through their Covenants, Conditions and Restricts, or CC&Rs, the rules that govern homeowners in HOA communities.
The city closed one of its two elementary schools last year after enrollment in the district dropped from 1,300 students in 2009 to 766 students in 2019. Osburn said the city didn’t have enough children to field peewee football or little league teams this year. It all comes down to the unsustainable housing situation, she said. “When you have this kind of saturation, homes are converted to short-term rentals, when you leave your home and you go for a walk in your neighborhood, you don’t recognize people anymore,” Osburn said. “You don’t have community.”
Randy Hawley, president of the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District governing board, said young families don’t move to Sedona anymore. Hawley said that 20% of the new teachers the district hired for the 2019-2020 school year ultimately resigned after being unable to find housing in the area.