Home-Based Business Bill: Good For Workers Or Bad For Neighborhoods?

Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 - 5:00am
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 - 5:05am

A bill that could make it easier for people to work from home is making its way through the state Legislature. And, that worries some people.

During testimony at the capitol, the sponsor of HB 2333, Rep. Jeff Weninger called it an economic issue.

“There’s a barrier to entry,” he said. “Not everybody who’s going to launch a business has the money to go rent a thousand square feet in the beginning.”

But Patrice Kraus with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns testified the bill would make it harder for local governments to manage home-based businesses.

“It shifts the balance to the person who wants to run a business and away from the neighbor who wants to live in their home relatively free from commercial activity,” she said.

Weninger told KJZZ the bill changes no local zoning ordinances and traffic and noise standards would still apply. “You can’t be able to see it from the street,” he said. “You can’t be able to hear it from the street."

HOAs are excluded from the bill, which bothers “Take Action Phoenix," a grassroots group of neighborhood leaders and stakeholders that’s been pushing for regulations on sober living homes.

TAP thinks the bill would generate more traffic and more people in neighborhoods without HOAs. The sponsor says cars would have to fit in driveways, not spill onto streets, and non-family employees would be capped at three. There is no limit on employees who are related.

In an email to KJZZ, Alexia Shonteff with TAP also expressed concern about how HB 2333 might impact future sober living homes, writing in part.

“When you introduce home business in a manner that impedes the residential character you are also significantly weakening the neighborhood character argument as a basis to impose restrictions (on sober living homes),” Shonteff said.

The city of Phoenix opposes HB 2333, which is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee on Monday, March 12. Phoenix’s Government Relations Manager, John Wayne Gonzales, emailed the following analysis to lawmakers as they discussed and voted in the House.

“This is our analysis on the floor amendment…

First, Unlike most suburbs and rural cities and towns, Phoenix has many diverse neighborhoods ranging from S-1 large lots to downtown high-rise apartments. Adopting an uniform “reasonable regulation” on home business will be virtually impossible. A type of home-based business may be compatible in S-1 neighborhood, but the same use may be inappropriate for more dense subdivisions.

Second, this bill will make it impossible for City to legally regulate most of the sober living homes in the residential districts. City may impose zoning regulation on sober living homes if the zoning regulation preserves the residential nature of the neighborhoods. Allowing intrusion of business activities with unlimited employees (3 unrelated + unlimited related) will destroy the residential nature of the residential neighborhood. It will be hard for the City to argue that a sober living home for 8 residents is a less compatible use in a residential neighborhood than home-based business.

Third, the bill seems to prohibit imposition of location-specific stipulations for home-based businesses. Currently, city through its zoning process can impose site specific conditions such as delivery hours, additional parking requirements, and noise-reduction devices. This bill takes away city’s ability to impose reasonable, case-by-case requirements.

Based on our analysis, the following uses are an example of what can be permitted in residential neighborhood:
1. Dog boarding house/shelter/day care center.
2. Warehouse.
3. Microbrewery.
4. Dental office.

We have heard neighbors complaining these types of uses in or abutting a residential neighborhood. Despite the well-intended attempts by the bill sponsor, the compromised language will still leave City with no authority to keep these business from residential area.

Also, comments on the floor of the House indicated that home-based businesses are already in neighborhoods, so why are cities opposing? Because when there is a problem, we have an ordinance that can help address the concerns raised by the neighbors. Another comment was that these amendments give cities the ability to regulate. We already have that authority, now. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

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