BISBEE — In an effort to regulate short term and vacation rentals, the mayor and City Council took the first step Tuesday to add some control through an amendment to the current city code.

A notice of intent to adopt an amendment to city code to add regulations related to vacation and short term rentals was approved unanimously by Mayor David Smith and councilmembers Anna Cline, Leslie Johns, Bill Higgins, Joni Giacomino and Louis Pawlick.

Smith voiced concerns recently about the increase in short term and vacation rentals and the decrease in housing available to the populace. However, the impact is made even more distressing as the 2020 Census begins to count the number of people who live in Bisbee. These short-term rentals are not counted as residences, which lowers Bisbee’s population and decreases opportunities for federal funding.

The number of short-term rental homes found on website Airbnb shows 239 listings in Bisbee.

A bill passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2016 that removed local jurisdictions’ ability to regulate short-term and vacation rentals has led to unwanted, unforeseen impacts on many cities. Those impacts to residential neighborhoods and even exclusive developments are now being addressed by the state and the bill will be revisited for possible changes to the legislation.

The proposed Bisbee amendment includes restrictions on guest limits and noise.

“The owner, tourist or transient shall not produce noise that is intermittent or continuous for a period of 15 minutes which travels beyond the property line and disturbs the peace and order of the neighborhood or person of ordinary sensibilities,” states the amendment. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., noise is to be curtailed.

Fines and violations would be up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second offense within 12 months of the first one.

If a third offense occurs in a 12-month period, the property owner will be suspended from operating any vacation or short-term rentals for 60 days and will be “assessed a penalty of $1,500 or 50 percent of the gross revenue generated from the property, whichever is greater.”

Smith stated the state currently collects the fines from offenders, but by approving this amendment, the city will be able to collect them.

According to City Manager Theresa Coleman, the ordinance would “benefit the general public by minimizing adverse impacts on the housing supply, public health, safety and peaceful enjoyment when visiting and living in Bisbee.”

Success will rely on regulations for conversions from residential homes to vacation rentals through “appropriate administrative and judicial remedies,” she added.

To ensure the city has accurate records for ownership of the property, the proposal also requires short-term rentals and vacation rentals to post on any advertising website current business licenses and state transaction privilege tax licenses.

The amendment also would prohibit any vacation or short-term rentals from retail sales, restaurants, banquets or event centers or any use other than residential.

The public will be able to comment on the amendment changes when the item is placed on the city council agenda.

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