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Sandy Journal

Short-term rentals, drug recovery homes on committee agenda

May 19, 2016 10:08AM ● By Chris Larson
SALT LAKE CITY — The legislature will address the place of local governments over issues including short-term rentals, group recovery homes and criminal justice reform. 

The Political Subdivisions Interim Committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, and Rep. R. Curt Webb, R-Logan, heard from several different local government advocacy groups and fellow lawmakers to get context and updates on the long-term issues to be addressed over the legislative off-season. 

Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman, said that he will rely on a working group formed by the League of Cities and Towns to study the issue during the interim. 

"Not all short-term rentals are create equal," Knotwell said noting nuances in short-term rentals compound possible problems and solutions surrounding the issue. 

Knotwell said that he doesn't intend to open a bill file and is hopeful that the League of Cities and Towns working group will "solve this on their own."

Sandy City banned short-term rentals in 1998. Despite the ban, the 2002 Winter Olympics brought a massive wave of short-term rentals that caused consternation amongst many Sandy neighborhood. 

Sandy City continues to engage on the evolving issue of short-term rentals - May 17 2016 1204PM

Sandy City continues to engage on the evolving issue of short-term rentals - May 17, 2016 12:04PM

Sandy City officials continue to grapple with short-term rentals as companies like Airbnb make it easier to connect homeowners with customers. Read More » 

Several Sandy City members are or were formerly involved with the League of Cities and Towns including Mayor Tom Dolan, Deputy Mayor John Hiskey and Councilman Steve Fairbanks.

Knotwell said that he would at least have a progress report for the committee by early fall. 

Cameron Diehl, the league's government relations director, said the working group is made of leaders from various communities and will assess existing city regulations surrounding short-term rentals looking for the best way for the legislature and cities to proceed. 

He noted this was just one issue in cities working with the state on issues such as impact fees, land usage and criminal justice reform. 

"The question we have been asking collectively... is 'What will a city look like 30 years from now?'" Diehl said explaining that the anticipation of explosive growth for the state will likely reshape the state in several ways.  

Diehl said Councilman Steve Fairbanks, Deputy Mayor John Hiskey and City Attorney Rob Wall are part of a 50-member working group that will examine the issue with Rep. Knotwell during the interim.

Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, said that zoning for substance abuse recovery homes in residential areas are a high priority for the legislature because they are at the center of the interaction of state, federal and local zoning laws and private property rights. 

Christensen said that many cities often fold whenever residential zoning rules are challenged legally because of apparent federal preeminence to run these homes. 

"You're tax dollars are spent more wisely at the local level than they are anywhere else in our system," Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said in committee.

He also noted city governments create the most applicable solutions for local problems and is concerned that state laws remove city autonomy in an attempt to provide consistency. 

"I don't think (cities) can be consistent," Stevenson said after the meeting. "Every city has its own reasons for existing... We all live where we live for various reasons and we like."