As you may know, there is a pending initiative relating to vacation home rentals in Page. The Lake Powell Chronicle has had several articles on this subject. I thought you may be interested in a letter sent by the prestigious Goldwater Institute on Nov. 7 to the planning and zoning commission and city council. It is a warning to the city of Page. (See a copy of the letter below.)
I purchased my vacation home in 2011 with the intention of retiring on Jan. 1, 2013, and visiting periodically and sharing the home with family and friends and offering it for family vacation rentals in between. I have been visiting Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas every year since 1988 and have owned my own houseboat with four friends since 1990. I also have owned commercial property in Page and land in Greenehaven.
I love the Page area. The Grand Circle has so much to offer and Page is at the center of it all. Unfortunately Page is stagnant and Greenhaven is all but a ghost town. Both have so much more potential with all of the adventure and attractions of this enchanting land.
If the Navajo power plant shuts down, Page could “go over the edge” as a New York Times article puts it. Why would the City discourage the one industry that could sustain it? There are many more people who could not afford to live in Page full time with the lack of employment but would be interested in a vacation home that could be rented out to offset some of the cost.
Vacation rentals are the hottest lodging sector in the industry with nearly 200,000 listings and 153 million visits each year! Many people prefer the intimacy of a vacation home over multiple hotel rooms. Grandparents can stay at home during the day and watch the kids while the others enjoy the outdoor attractions and then instead of “everyone meeting downstairs at 7 p.m. for dinner” at a hotel, they can share a family dinner at home. Families are the number one users of vacation homes.
Opponents of vacation home rentals have tried to paint those on vacation as inconsiderate, noisy, disrespectful people. Does that mean we are all bad people when we are on vacation? One of those, Marty Zwisler, my neighbor on Rim View Drive, did just that at a planning and zoning meeting recently. He stated he was an example because he went wild when on vacation. He then personally attacked me (though he knows nothing about me) and the whole concept of vacation home rentals with false accusations. Hypocritically though, just a month later, his brother Carl came to Page to visit Marty and Marty rented my home and they gave it rave reviews!
Furthermore, in more than a year of vacation rentals at my home in Page, we have had no complaints or incidents whatsoever. Vacation home rentals blend homogeneously with the neighborhood and in most cases are much more respectful than non-paying relatives and friends of friends who use our vacation homes!
I hope the city of Page does not blunt this opportunity to breathe some energy into Page. The boon to the businesses from the new form of vacationers, the attractiveness of second-home buying in Page, the increase in property values from less restrictions, the revenue from the vacation home rentals all can be accomplished while peacefully blending in with the neighborhoods.
I have fought this battle of ignorance about vacation home rentals before only to find that just a year after they were permitted, the most outspoken opponents had to concede that any negative impact on the community was non-existent. In fact the leader of the opposition at the time later fell on hard times and was able to save his own home through vacation home rental. He is now a strong supporter!
Property values went up, those who did not do vacation home rentals were renting properties for visiting family and friends, significant lodging taxes were generated, and most importantly the neighborhood stayed the same. All of the false accusations lodged at the time did not materialize.
The Goldwater Institute letter warns of the issues the city of Page will face if it attempts to ignore the Private Property Rights Protection Act (Proposition 207), which was passed overwhelmingly by the Arizona voters, in prohibiting or regulating against vacation home rentals in Arizona.
Even though the city denies rentals are currently permitted, I hold a permit issued by the city of Page which clearly states vacation home rentals as the use.
I hope the City Council can shed its apparent allegiance to a small number of controlling families and do what is best for Page and continue to allow vacation home rentals.
Thank you for your time.
LETTER FROM GOLDWATER INSTITUTE TO ROB PETERSON, chairman, Page Planning and Zoning Commission:
I am writing on behalf of the Goldwater Institute regarding the Page Planning and Zoning Commission’s proposed banning of “vacation rentals” in the city’s R1-8 and MHP zoning districts and regulation of “vacation rentals” in other zoning districts. Because the city’s existing zoning ordinances do not exclude vacation rentals from these zones, prohibiting or regulating them will expose the town to liability under Prop. 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act (PPRPA), which requires the state and its political subdivisions to compensate property owners when a land use regulation diminishes their property value. A.R.S. § 12-1131 – 1138. Arizona courts have made clear that the town would bear the burden of proving that any such regulation protects health and safety. See Sedona Grand, LLC v. City of Sedona, 229 Ariz. 37 (App. 2012), review denied, CV12-0080PR (Aug. 28, 2012). The town could also be responsible for property owners’ costs and attorney’s fees incurred in pursuing compensation under PPRPA. A.R.S. § 12-1135(D).
We understand that the Commission is scheduled to discuss this issue at its November 13 meeting, and we hope you will take the city’s potential liability under the PPRPA into consideration. Should the Commission and City Council prohibit or otherwise restrict vacation rentals in Page, we will consider taking appropriate legal action to vindicate property owners’ rights in accordance with Prop. 207.
Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this important matter, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
cc: Commissioners Liam Doyle, R.B. Ward, Vida Makowski, Bill Justice, Larry Thowe, Sue Lerud, Leroy Wicklund, Mayor Bill Diak, Co-Interim City Managers Rick Olson and Bryan Hill, City Attorney Robert Wingo
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