Caitlin Sievers

(Arizona Mirror) Gov. Katie Hobbs has signed two bipartisan bills that advocates say will facilitate a desperately-needed increase in Arizona’s housing supply.

On May 21, Hobbs signed House Bill 2720, which makes the creation of casitas or accessory dwelling units legal across the state, as well as House Bill 2721, which is aimed at encouraging the construction of a diversity of different types of home, instead of only single-family housing.

With a shortage of more than 270,000 housing units, according to the Arizona Department of Housing, Republicans and Democrats agree that something should be done about the lack of housing, but they don’t all agree on what.

Both bills passed with bipartisan support, with a mix of Republicans and Democrats voting for and against each of them.

The casita bill requires that any municipality with a population of at least 75,000 adopt regulations to allow any lot with a single-family home to build at least one attached and one detached accessory dwelling unit, known more commonly as an ADU or casita.

The bill also bans cities from placing a prohibition on advertising the single-family home or casita on the lot as separately leased long-term rentals.

And the proposal bars municipalities from requiring the resident of the casita be a relative of the people living in the single family home on the same lot; that the casita have a kitchen; that it have additional parking; that it have setbacks more than five feet from the property line or that the casita match the exterior design, roof pitch or finishing materials of the single-family home.

While the League of Arizona Cities and Towns supported the general concept of a bill allowing casitas across the state, it lobbied against the bill that made it to the governor’s desk because that piece of legislation doesn’t ban the use of casitas for short-term rentals, like Airbnb.

During a Feb. 12 Senate Finance and Commerce Committee meeting, League lobbyist Nick Ponder said that 26% of houses in Maricopa County were owned by outside investors who rent out the property. That has decreased the amount of homes available for purchase by locals, contributing to the housing shortage.

He also pointed out that the bill will preempt Phoenix’s recently adopted casita ordinance, which does ban their use as short-term rentals.

Hobbs said in a statement on Tuesday that she expects to deal with the short-term rental issue in the future.

“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,” she said.

In its own statement on Tuesday, the League acknowledged the urgent need for increased housing supply and commended Hobbs for signing HB2721, which requires cities with populations of 75,000 or more to allow the construction of townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes as a way to provide more affordable housing options, especially to first-time homeowners.

“We applaud Governor Hobbs for signing HB2721 and are proud to have taken a leadership role in joining our legislative partners in supporting this bill and others that will have a positive impact on Arizona’s housing landscape,” said Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls, who is also president of the League.

In her statement, Hobbs said that Arizona was on its way toward remedying its housing shortage and making it possible for its middle class families to purchase their own homes again.

“I’m glad the legislature heard my calls to come to the table to pass common sense, bipartisan legislation that will expand housing options and help mitigate the effects of rising costs to make life more affordable for everyday Arizonans,” Hobbs said. “And today, I’m proud to sign bills into law that will expand access to ADUs and missing middle housing.”