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A building on McKnight Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale that is expected to work as a short-term rental. (Photo: Lorraine Longhi / The Republic)

Four buildings in Old Town Scottsdale are divided into zones for a combination of office and residential uses, but the owner wants to use them completely for short-term rentals.

The City Planning Commission had previously rejected the applications, which will be submitted to the Scottsdale City Council on Tuesday.

Planning Commissioner Christian Serena said the city should not lean back to detect buildings in the area that ultimately would not fit in with the other businesses in the area.

“I have no problem with Airbnb in the area. But as they acquire more properties there, it seems that we are trying to open Pandora’s box a little to find the zoning to make it work,” Serena said. . “Our responsibility is to protect the neighborhood from this.”

The property owner owns a total of nine buildings in the area and says he plans to convert them into short-term rentals.

The situation highlights concerns about the growing number of short-term rentals in Arizona, especially in popular tourist places like Scottsdale.

Advocates say renting a house or a room is an excellent way to earn extra money, but critics say rents are hurting neighborhoods.

Has the operator been a “bad actor”?

The properties of the center in question are located near Main Street and 75th streets, just in front of Civic Center Plaza.

The buildings are already being used for vacation rentals. But under Scottsdale’s current zoning, the short-term rental operator, STR Ventures LLC, can only use 35% of the ground floor of single-story residential buildings.

STR Ventures, owned by John McKee, is asking the City Council to allow all four buildings to be used as short-term rentals.

At a meeting of the Planning Commission in October, Commissioner Larry Kush questioned whether STR Ventures was violating the current zoning by not applying the 35% rule.

A neighbor, Steven Voss, said he has seen dozens of people attending parties at short-term rentals.

Kush said Scottsdale police had responded to at least seven calls to McKee’s residence in the past year.

“They have already been bad actors,” Kush said. “If you’re a bad actor, you’re going to be called for that. You’re not going to be rewarded for that.”

McKee said two of the police calls occurred before he was the owner of the properties, and that at least three were calls made by tenants on their properties, related to reports of a voyeur and a possible gas leak in the installations.

If McKee is not granted a zoning change, state law still allows him to continue operating short-term rentals in buildings, as long as he adheres to the 35% rule.

But the rule is difficult for city officials without a precise floor plan, said city planner Ben Moriarty. Similarly, a The Scottsdale city code that limits the number of short-term tenants to six adults and their children has not been easily applied, city officials say.

Also in question is the relationship between STR Ventures and a popular short-term rental management company, Good Night Stay.

Good night relationship

Good Night Stay is a management company that advertises more than 80 short-term rental properties in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, including two rentals on the same street as the properties that request the zoning change.

STR Ventures is managed by the same owners as Good Night Stay, according to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

However, McKee’s lawyer said STR Ventures and Good Night Stay separated after worries arose last year about how Good Night Stay was marketing the properties of downtown McKee.

Rich court attorney said McKee and the owner of Good Night Stay are in the documentation phase of the separation of the two companies.

You cannot stop the operation, but the neighbor expects the agreement to limit

Voss, who designed, built and lives on Main Street Place, a condominium complex near McKee’s rental properties, said he and other neighbors are worried about loud parties and trash at one of the properties.

Voss’s biggest concern is that the rezoning would allow buildings to expand up to 66 feet, or what Voss called “Stacked Airbnbs as high as it could.”

Voss shared his concerns with McKee, who agreed to establish a private agreement with Voss that would limit the heights of the two-story buildings, the number of units in each building, improve the landscape of the streets and implement noise controls.

As part of the agreement with Voss, McKee’s buildings will rise no more than 26 feet, or approximately two stories.

“They have the right to do it now,” said Voss. “It would be better to have stipulations on the height of the building, stipulations on the number of units, the landscape … than not having anything.”

The agreement depends on the rezoning, Rich said.

If the rezoning request is rejected, short-term rentals could continue, he said, only without the guarantees established for the neighbors.

“If you deny the rezoning, it’s worse for Mr. Voss, it’s worse for the neighborhood,” Rich said.

Do you have a Scottsdale tip? Contact reporter Lorraine Longhi at [email protected] or 480-243-4086. Follow her on Twitter @lolonghi.

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