Town of Oro Valley
Courtesy photo

On May 6, during the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission, the town requested a zoning code amendment to add text to include “Owner-Occupied Lodging House” for larger-lot houses.

Through a citizen-mounted effort, more than 20 public speakers, and a packed meeting room, the amendment was defeated.

Within the summary of the request, the purpose of this amendment was to “allow home owners to offer lodging to athletes and other visitors in single-family homes in specific single-family residential districts.” This new text would add bed and breakfast-type locations to the zoning code and allow five or fewer guest rooms, with no more than 10 guests, as long as the homeowner lived in the house.

Oro Valley Town Manager Greg Caton said a couple days after the meeting that the issue was brought up within the town a few months prior when a homeowner looked to have a zone code amendment, but withdrew their application after learning of the commercial improvements needed, such as railings, commercial kitchen, and meeting fire code requirements.

“What we found through that process is we didn’t really have a good way to address this type of use within our zoning code,” Caton said. “Staff did a fair amount of work, so we thought ‘Well, let’s go ahead and do further work for a text amendment to the code to allow this type of use within certain zoning districts.’”

Doing this, he said would establish a conditional use process that would require the applicant to go before numerous boards such as planning and zoning and town council before being approved.

“We were actually suggesting more steps in the process to address these potential applicants.”

Oro Valley resident Bill Adler spoke during the meeting, citing that in order to make a zoning change, the change has to be compliant with the general plan.

“This is a rezoning,” Adler said to the board. “Rezonings have to be compliant with the general plan, and it is not. There are policies in the general plan that do not comply with this. This does not comply with the land-use map because the land-use map will have to be changed to allow commercial use in a residential district. It will have to be changed to increase the density from one dwelling unit per parcel to multiple dwelling units per parcel.”

Other residents like Nancy Young Wright, along with Wayne Strickler and others, launched the concerted effort to impede the zoning code change.

“We really are not interested in bed and breakfasts in Oro Valley,” Strickler said a couple days after the meeting.

Even if this zoning were to pass, which it didn’t, Strickler said it would be difficult to monitor the regulation for the allotted number of people.

“It can’t be done,” Strickler said. “How would you enforce the number of people who were staying at a bed and breakfast? Would they come in for a bed check every evening? Are they going to count the number of cars? It’s a terribly written proposal.”

Not finding a demand or immediate need, residents questioned why the town had put together a proposal.

“It isn’t an issue and it doesn’t need to be addressed,” Strickler said. “If somebody comes in and wants a variance for their particular house, I don’t think that it would be terribly time consuming for the town to take up that particular variance.”

Another cause for concern for this zoning amendment was the lack of notification that was given to the roughly 80 percent of the population in Oro Valley that would be affected by the change.

“To do it this way is just fundamentally wrong,” Young Wright said. “If you are going to do something like this, it should be to a general plan amendment where the entire citizenry knows. At least then there is an opportunity to comment and know what is going on.”

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