City Council shoots down short-term rental project

File - St. George City Councilman Jimmie Hughes during a council meeting on May 19, 2016. During the June 2, 2016 council meeting, he voted with the rest of the council not to allow short-term rentals in the Southgate area of the city. | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A zone change request to allow short-term rentals in the Southgate area was unanimously shot down by the City Council Thursday. The action reiterates the previous decisions by the council not to allow the rentals in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

General location of the The Joshuas at Southgate development. | Image courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News
General area of the The Joshuas at Southgate development. | Image courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News

The short-term rentals were part of a proposal to revitalize the Joshuas at Southgate subdivision that sits along Tonaquint Drive. Due to poor soil issues development of the subdivision has slowed considerably.

Developer Corbin Church, who owns the majority of the property, said allowing nightly rental units would help reignite development and benefit the surrounding area and the city overall.

Many area residents didn’t share that sentiment.

Over the course of three hours, Church gave a thorough presentation of why he felt the zone change request should be approved while the majority of those in attendance voiced their opposition.

Questions of safety and security were raised by some area residents, while others worried their property values would fall. Others questioned the potential character of the people who would use the rentals, saying the change could cause a nuisance and possibly bring in a criminal element. There were also issues related to increased traffic and parking.

However, the overarching theme was whether or not the short-term rentals should be allowed in residential areas.

“It just doesn’t fit with the character of the area,” a resident of Tonaquint Terrace told the City Council. He was one of many who lined up along the wall of the council chambers to speak.

General area of the The Joshuas at Southgate development. | Image courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News
General area of the The Joshuas at Southgate development. | Image courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News

Supporters of the short-term rentals said the project would help complete the languishing Joshuas subdivision, which would do much to beautify the area. Currently half of the development is dirt and brush.

Church said the Joshuas could be like the popular Paradise Village at Zion development in Santa Clara, which includes short-term rentals. None of the issues brought up by the opposition had arisen in the Santa Clara development.

“There haven’t been any issues,” said David Whitehead, a former Santa Clara City Councilman.

Whitehead said Church’s development in Santa Clara had also proven economically beneficial for the area and the city.

As for the many points of concern brought up by residents, Church said their fears were misplaced and misinformed.

“There’s nothing to support those fears,” he said.

When the hours-long public hearing came to a close, Council members were quick to say they had no problem with short-term rentals.

Councilwoman Michele Randall pointed to the council’s approval of short-term rentals last month in the Entrada area and as part of future development in Bloomington.

Still, where the rentals are allowed within the city is another matter.

“This is not the place for them,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said, adding that while St. George is a resort city, “Our entire city is not a resort.”

Councilman Joe Bowcutt said he worried about the precedent the city would create by allowing the rentals in a residential area.

“If the residential neighborhoods don’t want it, I don’t want it either,” Councilwoman Bette Arial said.

The issues of short-term rentals isn’t likely to go away anytime soon and is a global issue, Hughes said. Many cities struggle with the matter and how to properly deal with it. As such, he asked the residents at the meeting to keep on eye on the Legislature, as laws are being suggested that would hamper the city’s ability to regulate short-term rentals.

“The movement in hospitality is nightly rentals, not hotels,” Church said.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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6 Comments

  • hiker75 June 3, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Bravo St George city council. My impression in Ivins is that city council will cave in to whatever the developers want. They do not seem to be too interested in what the residents want. Take for example the RV Resort that was approved next to highway 91 and residential homes. The planning commission recommended not approving it but the council approved it anyway,

    • radioviking June 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Is this what the residents of St. George want? Was there a survey or vote? I was not aware of any. Seems like a handful of “old money” families running this community, not representing the actual people who would like more of a free market. It is ironic how the group of aristocracy in Southern Utah – as conservative republicans – complain about state and national government being dictators, and yet they run this community like communist tyrants who will not allow competition or diversity.

  • 42214 June 3, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I too applaud the council for their action. It will be interesting to see what impact all the stay and play condos have at Bloomington Country Club on the surrounding residential community.

  • tcrider June 3, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    excellent job council people, thanks for supporting the people you represent, instead
    of some greedy developer that does not give a rats arse for the residents that live in these neighborhoods.
    This will truly help Saint George stay a outstanding city.

  • knobe June 4, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Regarding the short term rentals . . .
    The nature of the clientele depends on the referral source .
    A big sign saying ” daily / weekly ” / cash accepted ” could draw the more problematic while
    Services like VRBO , HomeAway & AiBnB have vetted users who have a very Low rate of problems .
    In fact their customers generally are Better than the average character of a subdivision .

    I suspect the solution lies in having an Owner occupied place as opposed to
    some bulk holding company that employees bottom rate managers .
    An owner who lives in the house is more likely to have very strict standards about “Who” is staying .

    .

  • Common Sense June 7, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I don’t understand why anyone wants to buy a house that has a two foot back yard and a main road butted up against the rear of your home. Doesn’t that road noise bother anyone?

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