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Why party-house legislation is needed

 

In reading the December 3 commentary, Parties at short-term rentals can be risky,” we can all agree that party houses are a concern.   

At Airbnb, we ban all parties in our listings, in addition to prohibitions on “party houses” known to be a community nuisance. Our stance on disruptive parties motivated our support for SB1379, a bill introduced in the state Legislature earlier this year that would have given local jurisdictions more powerful tools to protect quality of life and public safety as the global pandemic raised concerns about an increase in disruptive noise and nuisance issues in neighborhoods. If adopted, cities and towns would have had the power to levy increased penalties against operators who violated occupancy limits, health and safety rules, or failed to register a local contact to respond to complaints or emergencies with local authorities.  

We are committed to working with local leaders to be good partners and neighbors, but unfortunately, this legislation failed due to the opposition of cities like Paradise Valley. In testimony before members of the Legislature, when asked about party houses, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns dismissed the issue, stating they are, “a bright and shiny object.” Rather than focusing on improving enforcement against the small fraction of problems in the short-term rental industry, Paradise Valley has continued its efforts to stifle entrepreneurship and individual private property rights within its borders.   

While we think legislation can be an important step forward, we will continue to draw a hard line on disruptive parties and emphasize safe and responsible travel. Our ongoing work and commitment to prioritize safety in Arizona has included collaborating with local officials to suspend or remove 50 listings throughout Arizona including in Paradise Valley which violated our policies on “party houses” and created significant or recurring safety challenges. We remain committed to doing so in the future.  

We have also:  

  • Implemented identity verification processes and background checks. In Arizona and throughout the US, prospective hosts and guests must first undergo identity verification and a background check in order to use Airbnb. 
  • Established a 24/7 neighborhood support line, a way for Arizona neighbors to connect directly with Airbnb to flag potential party houses for investigation. 
  • Announced a commitment to partner with Vrbo to share information on known Arizona party houses. 

Additionally, we recently shared our plan to help prevent unauthorized parties in Arizona over New Year’s Eve, the anchor of which is a block on certain reservations of entire home listings in Arizona, complementing our other party defense systems and Airbnb’s ongoing party ban. Last year, Airbnb piloted a similar initiative over New Year’s Eve, and specifically in Arizona, over 2,300 people were deterred by our various anti-party defenses from booking entire home listings over NYE 2020. We also applied a similar system in Arizona most recently over Halloween weekend. 

We want the community of Paradise Valley and local law enforcement to know that if they ever wish to consider the regulations proposed under SB1379, we stand ready to work with local officials and help ensure that residents can continue to make ends meet by sharing their homes responsibly. 

John Choi is head of Arizona policy for Airbnb. 

 

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