Continental Country Club is embroiled in a fight as a group of residents push for three members of the company’s board of directors to be recalled on Saturday.
The push comes as part of a nearly three-year controversy over whether homeowners should be allowed to rent out properties as short-term vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.
A group of residents who want short-term rentals eliminated from the community were successful in scheduling a special vote to recall board members John Keegan, Robert Hoadley and Dusty Rhoton, saying the three support the rentals and don’t represent the views of the community at large.
General manager Tahlia Murray said so far they have received over 800 early votes from residents, with Saturday being the last day for residents to turn in ballots.
Keegan said in the 29 years he has lived in the club, he never thought something like the recall election would happen, calling it “nonsense.” Keegan added the push to recall the members and eliminate short-term rentals was represented the actions of a small but loud minority in the community.
Hoadley said the whole situation was “unfortunate.”
Rhoton could not be reached for comment before publication.
Carl Wood, one of the residents pushing for all three to be recalled, said the community is overwhelmingly opposed to the vacation rentals, but the three board members are obstacles in eliminating them from the community.
John Nilsson, who also supports recalling the members, said short-term rentals run counter to the residential nature of the community as vacationers often throw loud and disruptive parties and simply represent strangers instead of neighbors. He added many break the community's rules by renting to more than one family unit at a time.
“No one bought a single-family residence to live next to a motel,” Nilsson said. “That’s not what a residential neighborhood is about.”
Nilsson added the house they own in Country Club is a second home, so they like the security of knowing when they are not living there for half the year, it is surrounded by people they trust.
According to Murray, out of the 2,400 residences in the community, there are 130 properties they are monitoring as short-term rentals based on information they obtain from rental sites.
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But Keegan said the real number of rental properties is only 35 and the number of rentals that are actually posing any problems is even smaller. He said only about five to seven properties make the rest of the rentals look bad.
Whatever the true number is, Nilsson said the impact of the rentals on the community is large. Nilsson said only one or two rentals can impact the whole block.
“They are constantly on vacation all week long. It’s not like a homeowner who has two parties a year. You can have 30 parties a year in a short-term rental with 20 people in it,” Nilsson said. “In a residential neighborhood, you’ve got kids who need to be to bed by 8 p.m., who are going to school.”
But Keegan, who owns a short-term rental in the community, disagreed with Nilsson’s characterization of most of those who use them.
Most of the people who rent them out are good people, he said, simply trying to escape the heat in Phoenix or have a place to stay while they visit the Grand Canyon.
Hoadley agreed and said he has met many nice people when renting out his house in Country Club. Hoadley added it helps pay off the mortgage.
If the recall is successful, Wood said they want to then hold a vote to require a minimum of 30 days for rentals, essentially banning short-term stays from the community.
Hoadley said he thinks more regulation of short-term rentals might be necessary, but banning them outright is not the solution. Hoadley added he would like to see that regulation coming from the state legislature so communities like Continental Country Club are not left to figure out how to govern these rentals themselves.
In the meantime, Hoadley said he thinks the club should just better enforce the regulations they do have in place.
The country club does technically only allow owners to rent to a single family unit at a time, and for the last year has worked to better enforce the rules, Murray said. But she admitted, enforcing those rules has been challenging when it is hard to know what one family unit is and what is not.
This will be the third time the issue of short-term rentals has rocked the community. The issue was first voted on in 2012 when residents decided against taking action; a vote in 2018 was ended by the board in ambiguity.