ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona House Democrat explains how ‘casita bill’ can help fight the state’s housing shortage

May 17, 2024, 8:00 PM

Casita bill, or HB 2070, passed in Arizona House...

The Arizona House passed the bill on May 15, 2024. (Photos: Rep. Analise Ortiz, left, Arizona Department of Water Resources, right)

(Photos: Rep. Analise Ortiz, left, Arizona Department of Water Resources, right)

PHOENIX — A new bill to address the state’s housing crisis is on its way to Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs’ desk.

The Arizona House passed House Bill 2720, also known as the “casita bill,” on Wednesday.

The law would require Arizona cities to allow accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs. Specifically, cities would have to allow ADUs on the properties of single-family homes that are within a mile of “central business districts” in cities with populations exceeding 75,000.

The bill’s supporters say it could help address the state’s shortage of about 270,000 housing units.

One of those supporters is Rep. Analise Ortiz, who joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Chris and Joe Show on Friday.

Ortiz, who represents Arizona House District 24, said the bill would provide the kind of change Arizona families need right now.

“It opens the door for more working-class families to be able to use their own property to say, ‘Yeah, I want grandma or my college student or anyone else to be able to live in my backyard to have their own privacy at either no rent or a very affordable rent,'” Ortiz said.

Housing crisis impacts Arizonans from all walks of life, she says

This bill is a step in the right direction to solving the Valley’s housing crisis, she added.

“The housing shortage and the increase in rent and mortgages is impacting all types of people across the income spectrum and across the age demographics,” Ortiz said.

With rents so high, many of her constituents find themselves in impossible situations, she added.

For instance, one senior who lives in a house told Ortiz she wanted to give it to her children and move to a small apartment. However, due to her fixed income, it was financially impossible. Adding a casita could solve the problem.

By requiring cities to accept ADUs on specific properties, this bill would allow homeowners to find unique solutions to their housing issues, Ortiz said.

“There were several cities that were banning casitas,” she said. “Or … they had ordinances in place that really were not strong enough to protect people’s private property rights.”

What do critics have to say about the casita bill?

Critics of the bill have voiced concerns over ways it could potentially be exploited.

Some of the criticism of this bill comes from the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. The organization has voiced concerns over homeowners turning casitas into short-term rentals.

 

Many Valley residents in different cities have said short-term rentals cause noise disturbances and a lower quality of life for neighbors.

However, Ortiz said the bill has a stipulation that gives cities the authority to only allow casitas to be used as short-term rentals if the owners live on the property.

“That also cuts back on some of the concerns people have around party homes from short-term rentals and things of that nature,” Ortiz said. “I think that this bill has really great guard rails in it.”

What about corporate investors who buy up Arizona homes?

This guard rail also pushes back against corporate investors who are causing problems in Arizona’s housing market, she added.

BlackRock has even said that they have targeted Arizona and other housing markets like it that have a shortage of housing,” Ortiz said. “They know, with just basic supply and demand, that this is going to be the place they can exploit that for profit.”

The rules for renting out casitas over the long term are slightly different, she said. This bill gives the cities the flexibility to create the ordinance that is going to put these regulations on long-term rentals into effect, she said. It will be up to individual cities to decide how they want to reign in corporate investors.

“As a state, we need to do a better job of tracking the data of what properties are owned by corporate investors and potentially looking at ways that we can maybe cap how many homes the corporate investor can buy,” Ortiz said.

“If we start to get creative as a state about allowing more innovative housing options, we cut down on that shortage,” she said. “We then take the power out of BlackRock’s hands and we put it back in the hands of Arizona.”

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Arizona House Democrat explains how ‘casita bill’ can help fight the state’s housing shortage