In November of 2006, Arizona voters approved Proposition 207—a measure that guaranteed property owners compensation when their land was devalued by later government regulation. At issue in a new Court of Appeals opinion called Sedona Grand v. City of Sedona is property that Sedona Grand, LLC wanted to option to sell; the option granted the prospective buyer the “exclusive right to inspect the property” for a set time period – likely mirroring the length of time the buyer prospect wanted to visit Sedona’s wonders on a vacation sojurn.

     The City passed an ordinance in 2008 prhibiting “rentals” of residences for less than 30 consecutive days to a “transient.” Violations of that ordinance are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment for the miscreant’s misdemeanor. Sedona Grande complained that the 2008 Sedona City ordinance diminished the value of its land since the City interpreted the ordinance text to prohibit “option” visits. Since the ordinance was passed after Proposition 207, our state standard (according to this opinion) for finding a new ordinance exempt from the reach of Proposition 207 is that the City must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the principal purpose of the post-Prop 207 municipal ordinance is protection of the public’s health and safety.

     The actual text of the “exempt type ordinance” is found in ARS 12-1134(B), which says:
B. This section does not apply to land use laws that:

1. Limit or prohibit a use or division of real property for the protection of the public’s health and safety, including rules and regulations relating to fire and building codes, health and sanitation, transportation or traffic control, solid or hazardous waste, and pollution control; . . . .

     Notice that the text says nothing about the “principal purpose”; that’s something the Court of Appeals decided on its own. The City may want to appeal that determination to the State Supreme Court, if it thinks it can prove that any purpose included public  health and safety preservation. In fact, the ordinance just intended to preclude folks who aren’t owners from staying anywhere in Sedona except in a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast where transients can pay a bed tax. But, for the City’s benefit, here are some arguments to be made to the trial court in the evidentiary hearing on the health and safety ramifications of the ordinance:

     See, transients are by definition less invested in the community, so they are not as likely to self-police their anti-social behaviors, so-

They are more likely than full time residents to throw gum wrappers in the gutters, with or without ABC gum attached, a definitely unsanitary mess; and
They are more likely to spit on the sidewalks than anyone except cowboys with chew-in-cheek; and

They are more likely to fall off their horses on “City Slicker” style  rides, creating potential for multiple conveyance, “chain reaction” collisions, devastating traffic control  in City rights of way; and
They are more likely than full time residents to pick up pretty rocks to cart them home after their vacations, which probably upsets the balance of nature, thus adversely impacting Sedona’s public mental well-being or pollution controls.

     Happy Centennial to all our healthy and safe Arizona citizens, and let’s keep it pristine and purty, you visitors!