You can rent your home to a biker after all.
The Payson Town Council last week temporarily suspended an ordinance preventing homeowners from renting their place for the weekend — in hopes the thousands of bikers and fellow travelers will have a place to stay during the Oct. 8, 9 and 10 Thunder Mountain Ride.
Town Attorney Tim Wright said “the hotels are either booked or almost booked and the campgrounds have filled up. So the suggestion was made people could be housed by residents. The Uniform Development Code (UDC) doesn’t allow for that.”
The council unanimously approved the proposal — although several seemed nervous about an event that organizers hope will lure about 5,000 motorcyclists into town for three days of events and the raffling of 11 motorcycles worth $10,000 to $20,000 each.
The Mogollon Health Alliance and other local charities hope the event will become an annual fund-raiser.
“I’ve heard some concerns,” said Councilor Su Connell, “about drunk driving and that they’ll have 15,000 or 20,000 motorcyclists.”
Tourism Director Cameron Davis said “I have no idea how many people will be coming, but 20,000 is quite a large number. I think the promoters would be very happy if they got 3,000 or 5,000.”
He said the police department will set up a command center and dispatch unit in Green Valley Park to police the event.
Previously, the council approved a temporary liquor license so that organizers can sell alcoholic beverages inside a fenced-in area at the park.
Organizers will also set up a supervised kids play area at Julia Randall Elementary School and stage a variety of events for the three days of the festival.
Those events include a motorcycle stunt area, live music every night, vendors and a fireworks display — although the original plan for a 30-minute fireworks show has been condensed to eight minutes, said Davis.
Payson has about 300 hotel rooms, which generally fill up on busy holiday weekends. However, the whole county has been plagued by one of the state’s highest hotel room vacancy rates in the state during the downturn. Countywide, the vacancy rate remains at about 50 percent.
Town officials hope that the event catering to middle-aged motorcycle riders will add a sold-out weekend to the tail end of the tourist season in Rim Country. Organizers say they believe that the event will mostly attract the mid-life-crisis set, but not the true motorcycle gangs — like the Hell’s Angels.
As it turns out, legendary Hell’s Angel Sony Barger will be hosting a birthday party near Prescott on the same weekend, which organizers say will draw off many of the more violent element among the bikers.