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'They killed our city': Locals feel helpless as vacation rentals overrun Sedona, Arizona

Debra Donovan, who has rented in Sedona for 19 years, said that she fears the owner of her current rental will turn it into a short-term rental when her one-year lease is up.

Donovan says loyal, long-term renters in Sedona are passed over as homeowners seek to capitalize on the short-term rental market.

“I’ve lived here 20 years,” she said. “That’s a commitment.”

The crowd erupted in anger as Osburn displayed a map flooded with red dots indicating the short-term rentals operating in west Sedona.

Now 32, Donovan mourns for the community that she grew up in, one that she says has been lost with the influx of vacation renters descending on the city.

“Most of us can’t come home,” Donovan said. “It’s not a place that I can make a home.”

The city closed one of its two elementary schools last year after enrollment in the district dropped from 1,300 students in 2009 to 766 students in 2019.

Osburn said the city didn’t have enough children to field peewee football or little league teams this year.

It all comes down to the unsustainable housing situation, she said.

"When you have this kind of saturation, homes are converted to short-term rentals, when you leave your home and you go for a walk in your neighborhood, you don’t recognize people anymore," Osburn said. "You don’t have community."


New York City had the same issue. Investors were buying apartment buildings and doing short term rentals which meant less housing for locals.

We have the same issue where I am at, a small mountain resort town in the Southern California mountains. I am a real estate broker and 90% of my buyers are looking for second homes, and most of them are looking to use them as STR’s to offset the cost of ownership. I bought a property that had been a full time rental for over 30 years, I bought it on the condition the tenant vacate before close of escrow. I do not want full time tenants.


I wonder when the pendulum will swing to the middle. We’ve had multiple postings about the race to the bottom ( of rental rates).

My area is listed in the top 10 places in the USA for purchasing a property for STR.

Last winter some owners were listing for as low as $50/night for a nice 2 Br 2 ba condo to get bookings because the supply was high and demand low.

Summer is different—-I’ve been booked at good rates non-stop from 6/1 to 8/15. And I have reasonable rentals booked from 8/15-10/15.

Property selling prices have gone crazy.

At some point new buyers won’t be able to get the rental dollars they want/need to offset the mortgage & cost of ownership

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Not to undermine the seriousness of the conversation, but it says she is 32 years old. She’s been renting for 19 years, so she started renting in Sedona when she was 13?

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Barcelona, Nashville, ad infinitum.

Hopefully that point is soon! My current guest is from Valencia Spain, and works in Barcelona and Lisbon as well. He says the STRs in Barcelona have pushed up the long-term rent levels too, the whole city he says now is not affordable for Spanish people, only foreign investors. The unintended consequences of the STR boom are dire.

Sedona has marketed itself as a winter vacation destination for 50 years. This kind of pricing of full time residents has been going on for decades at resort areas. Aspen’s resort hotels have a hard time finding workers because of the lack of affordable housing nearby.

Sedona’s situation is not likely to change because many residents and most property owners depend on vacation rentals and hotels.

Folks need to learn that if you live in or near a resort area, there will not be much affordable housing.


The seaside town of 1500 where I was raised has 120 airbmb’s in it. Locals of many years can’t live there. And they wonder why there is a big homeless van presence on the main road…

It’s interesting how things developed.
That was not avoidable . People saw opportunities and went for it
This is the first summer when I can’t rent any of my Rooms and also separate house at all u less I drop prices to what you mention less than actually it cost me to even open properties .
I switched completely to longer terms such as week minimum and up but get guests mostly from Craigslist. Seems like it’s in demand

It seems like at the beach people have always purchased condos & houses and rented to vacationers.

Thanks to shows like Instant Hotel, Vacation Rental Potential, and Stay Here (btw I watch them too) more people are jumping in and thinking it is easy money.

I wish some one would do a show of what it is like to constantly clean, repair, paint, upgrade, worry about paying the bills, update or pricing & listing in the effort to attract renters, etc. instead of being able to relax and enjoy those vacation homes.

Do you think anyone would watch?


It’s for sure would be beneficial before buying a property for this reason only.
The whole point of Air was to make money with existing homeowners house .with spare rooms only. To rent out separate houses people did for long before Air started. We rented cabins and appartments 20 years ago through all kind of agencies and from ads in Newspapers .
I am curious to what future will bring …at this point not sure that private rooms will hold for for long .

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In our ski town part of the response has been using the taxes from short term rentals to build workforce housing and subsidize deed restricted “locals” neighborhoods.
These communities are going to have to rethink their super restrictive building codes if they want enough housing for both workers and tourists.

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