Labelle: Stopping STRs before they start

Paradise Valley Independent, March 2, 2022

It’s been an interesting week. Going door to door for signatures for the nominating petition to get me on the ballot for Paradise Valley Town Council, I’ve been meeting so many wonderful new people, and seeing some I haven’t in 30 years. Mostly an enjoyable and rewarding experience thus far.

People ask, why are you running? Many reasons (all my own).

All come from an organic place of having to take action, researching strategies to protect mine and my parents’ neighborhoods and “dipping my toe in” on the historic advisory committee to help preserve our Town’s unique history and character.

I’ve learned: Don’t expect others to “take care of things.” Our elected town officials are unpaid, and while they work hard, there is only so much they can do when state regulations are so cumbersome. That is where we, as citizens, come into the picture.

As I shared in my last article, it was necessary for me to take a “grassroots” approach to limiting the alternative use/part houses in my neighborhood.

It is still ongoing with my parents’ neighborhood and many others.

Amending CC&Rs, as our attorney Chris Combs has assisted with, is just the first step. This is a long game.

With the town’s new regulations to require stating the property manager/platforms for listing, the owner is now required to disclose who they use for rental platforms, so we are able to now reach out to these property management companies and advise them that they are complicit in violating a contract — the deed restrictions — to our subdivision. This is separate from the new Town Codes.

I would encourage you to document any and all violations to both Town Code and your local CC&Rs (get a copy from the County Recorder’s office) and download a copy of the new town rules on their website.

Use this information to tackle the violations at the most local level. Of course, we should also all be calling our law enforcement when we see any violations to the Town Code or any behavior that feels threatening or dangerous.

I also propose that the town reach out to the designated brokers of our local real estate brokerages, or better yet, send a representative to clearly outline and explain the code, at perhaps the Brokers in-perosn or Zoom meeting.

Best practice will be to stop the purchase of a party house before it happens.

If all parties understand the restrictions in place, the buyer can better make their choices and there will be less strife at the end of the day. This proactive approach by council can also include reaching out to the property management platforms to advise them of the new rules.

I have spoken with agents who have no idea about the changes, and could inadvertently guide their buyer or seller in the wrong direction by failing to disclose the town rules and/or the CC&Rs or HOA bylaws of the community.

My best practice, currently, is to call and email any listing agent that has a current active or pending property in my neighborhood and share our amended CC&Rs with them.

This then makes them accountable for disclosing to both buyer and seller what our restrictions are as far as short-term rentals. This protects not only buyer and seller from possible future legal action by neighbors, it protects the agents and brokers also.

Red flag: if you see a listing advertised as “No HOA,” this has become code for “come get your STR property.”

I would pay attention to the agents doing this and if indeed your neighborhood HOA disallows, or has amended CC&Rs to disallow or restrict them, make the agent aware. At the very least, the agent should be disclosing the new Town Code to all potential buyers.

This issue, along with the myriad of other Quality of Life issues, is why I am running for Town Council. I am not running to “unseat” anyone. I am not running because I was coerced into it.

I am running because for two years I have been active and loud on these issues and will continue to do so.

Cut through traffic and speeding in our neighborhoods, the specter of over-development and push for zoning changes, the fight to keep our open spaces and mountain views intact, all weigh heavily on most of our minds as residents.

There are so many wonderful groups in Town working together on these issues — we all bring something to the table. There is no one “right” way. The more ammunition we bring to the fight to preserve Paradise Valley, the better off we all are.

Working together to get this done, along with other Quality of Life issues, is my priority and passion.

Editor’s Note: Christine Labelle is a 45-year resident and is running for Paradise Valley Town Council. She currently serves on the Paradise Valley Historical Advisory Committee.