PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The cars stretched out of the gated driveway, bodies clad in bathing suits packed the hot tub, and the sound of music and laughter reached into the neighboring properties.

On a typical summer weekend, the crowd gathered at the north-central Phoenix short-term rental house would be no more than an annoyance to the rest of the neighborhood. But this was July 5, 2020 - during the middle of a pandemic.

"I know a lot of people that have contracted this. And I want to tell you where they contracted it - at graduation parties. At private gatherings at homes," warned Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in June.

Party houses agitate neighbors, spread coronavirus

Two weeks before he made that statement, Ducey, himself, attended a house party. A photo recently surfaced showing the Ducey wearing shorts, standing in a back yard with no mask and no social distance between him and the other attendees.

Arizonans have adjusted to a newer, less social lifestyle. But one type of gathering has been hard to leave behind: the barbecue/house party/get-together. But public health officials, like Governor Ducey, warn that these events can also turn into COVID contagion events.

Outbreaks in other parts of the country have been traced to house parties, some of them infecting dozens of guests.

And while most households have limited these events to family and close friends, some houses across the Phoenix area see these parties almost daily.

"These are pretty big parties with a lot of people," said Ian Jeffrey, who lives in a Scottsdale neighborhood.

Jeffrey has counted more than 20 short-term rentals in his area of the city but says two or three of them are real problems. He says neighbors have taken to videotaping the crowds and the antics, then reporting the incidents to police. But he says it rarely results in action.

"This guy had people urinating and defecating on the street, right in the view of his house. He had a video of that, and the police were not interested," said Jeffrey.

Some short-term rental companies have made efforts to eliminate party house events. Airbnb, the largest rental company, instituted a ban on party houses in the Phoenix area. But neighbors say the company can do more.

But other neighbors have told CBS 5 Investigates that it is other rental companies and individual owners who are the worst offenders.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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