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Hobbs signs accessory dwelling unit expansion measure over objections of municipalities

Over the objections of Arizona cities and towns, Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill Tuesday that aims to increase the state’s affordable housing supply through accessory dwelling units.

Hobbs vetoed a housing affordability bill earlier this year known as the Starter Homes Act. That measure was opposed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, the lobbying arm of Arizona municipalities. 

Given the League’s opposition to the ADU bill as well, Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-Phoenix) said the governor’s decision to sign it was a pleasant surprise.

“The League was still very vocally opposed to the bill, and so were some neighborhood associations so you never know how it’s going to go,” Hernandez said.

In a statement, Hobbs lauded “dramatic strides” the Arizona Legislature has made towards bringing back housing affordability in Arizona. She also called for future, more broad sweeping regulation of short-term rentals.

“Moving forward, I hope we can work together to address short term rentals that displace long-term community residents, and crack down on speculation by out-of-state real estate investors that drives up the cost of housing for Arizonans,” Hobbs wrote.

Proponents of the bill brushed aside the League’s concerns that ADUs would be used more for short-term rentals than permanent housing. They questioned why short-term rentals should be banned in that form when they’re allowed in every other type of housing.

The measure does require property owners to live in the main residence on properties with ADUs.

Many elements of the bill were included in past housing legislation that failed to make it to the governor’s desk in 2023

Hobbs also signed a second housing bill that will allow for construction of more duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and townhomes – known as “middle housing” — in single family neighborhoods.

The League issued a statement celebrating the signingof the middle housing bill, and reiterating their concerns regarding ADUs.

“(HB2720) did not address the short-term rental loophole and could not be supported. It could open the door for an influx of units that can be used as Airbnb’s or vacation rentals,” the statement read. “It’s important to note that 37 cities currently allow ADUs and 13 more are actively working toward passing an ADU ordinance.”

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.