Letters: Who is right is best satisfied by what is right
In 1977, residents of the Town of Jerome, as stated in the original Zoning Ordinance No. 177 "found it necessary for the welfare of the Town of Jerome that a Zoning Ordinance shall be enacted" The Ordinance as revised in 1997 covered "imposing regulations, prohibitions, and restrictions" that very specifically describe uses of "land for trade, industrial, commercial and residential or other purposes". The Ordinance also prescribes "procedures for changes of districts, conditional use permits, variances and other permits."
Listed on the Jerome ballot of the August 26th Primary Election is Proposition 428, which references Ordinance No. 405, an amendment to the Jerome Zoning Ordinance. Ordinance No. 405 adds Vacation Rentals as a Conditional Use in all zones, which includes the residential neighborhoods. A NO vote on this Proposition will have the effect of rejecting this Ordinance and changes to the Zoning Ordinance and Town Code. A NO vote on this Proposition will:
Ensure that the current Zoning Ordinance will remain as written.
The Town Council will have the opportunity to develop an acceptable Ordinance to allow Vacation Rentals in the Commercial Zone as other transient lodging is allowed.
The owners of Vacation Rentals, a prohibited use in Jerome, can utilize the multiple venues available in the Zoning Ordinance to operate as a permitted use.
Over the past few years a number of property owners in Jerome converted their single family residences- houses and apartments into commercial enterprises i.e. Vacation Rentals. The Jerome Zoning Ordinance is very comprehensive and allows for a short-term rental in the Commercial Zone. The use is called a BOARDING OR ROOMING HOUSE, which is defined as "a building or buildings containing a central kitchen facilities and ... where lodging is provided for compensation with or without meals.."
As stated in the Zoning Ordinance, Boarding or Rooming Houses are a permitted use in the Commercial Zone. The ZO provides for both the use and the zone for this type of business. Unfortunately, this solution to running a Vacation Rental as a Boarding or Rooming house has not been utilized rather the VR business is operating in the Residential zones. Confirmation of the existence of Vacation Rentals in Jerome may be seen on various websites including VRBO, AIRbnb, Tripadvisor and Homeaway. Air bnb lists seven Vacation Rentals available in Jerome.
The current Vacation Rentals operating in both Residential and Commercial Zones will remain unregulated, a contradiction to the goal of zoning. (Section 501.C3 of the Zoning Ordinance).
The Jerome Zoning Ordinance is a very useful document that clearly states the rules and regulations of land use in Jerome. I have been on the Planning and Zoning Commission and found that the solution to most P&Z issues can be answered by referencing the Ordinance and without violating the Zoning Ordinance. There are multiple avenues available to a property owner to legally operate a Vacation Rental:
Apply for a Conditional Use Permit,
Apply for a change of zoning
Propose to the Town a new permitted use.
I appreciate the diligence our volunteer Council has exercised to resolve the unregulated use of a single-family residence as a commercial enterprise. I hope that with respect and honesty the owners of vacation rentals and the Town will discuss openly this use of property without any claims of a violation of property rights, litigation or any other contentious means.
As said by Ayn Rand, "Any alleged 'right' of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right."
The current Zoning Ordinance and Ordinance No. 405 may be accessed on the Town of Jerome website.
http://www.jerome.az.gov/Town Codes/Zoning Ordinance/Amending Ordinances/Ordinance 405.