The right to sublet, whether for a week or a year is intrinsically part of our society, and how cities started to regulate it once it was facilitated through online sites is beyond the pale. The fact that the laws were not enforced or were only enforced through a complaint process is an indication that they were not really important or realistic. Think of the many laws that continue to sit on the books across the country which make for amusing reading. It’s a shame that the City was unable to simply respond to the complaints and put the emphasis on responsible hosting instead of enacting restrictive and damaging new laws costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars on an arguably discriminatory new law.
As a mom and pop owner of a fourplex in Santa Monica, and close to 60-years-old I feel that we in particular (and other owners of small units, duplexes, triplexes, etc.) are being penalized by the new laws, which quite arbitrarily drew a line between the privileged R1 homeowner with a guesthouse and anyone else. It appears that the city assumes that vacationers are fine and legal staying for 1-30 days in a guest home on an R1 property but not at a duplex, triplex, or fourplex etc.
They say it’s fine for vacationers to sleep on one’s couch for 1-30 days or for eight vacationers to rent one, two, three or four bedrooms in a home, apartment or a condo with a host in it; but that they somehow turn into nuisances if they are host free, even just renting a one bedroom. This is illogical thinking. Where they should have put their attention was on responsible management of ones home in regards to guest or resident hosting, whether one is home or not. Being mindful to ones neighbors is the most important consideration with vacation rentals.
After many communications with Kevin McKeown his only argument was that these units need to be returned to the city’s affordable housing stock. Two of my units are vacant and have moved out of the “affordable” housing range for some time now. His stated purpose is impossible to attain. As is that of the hotel lobbies who paid eight housekeepers to hold signs saying that they need affordable housing in Santa Monica and vacation homes take it away from them. Really? However, if he were to tax my two units he could, on just my two units alone, bring the city upwards of $12,000 a year and put those funds into affordable housing projects in the city. If I am living on my property and have a guest in one unit how will this law stand up in court? Will a jury really see the difference between a R1 home and a duplex? How does it differ from the model the City of Santa Monica has legalized? One unit behind a home is fine, but one unit behind a duplex is not. Does this make sense to anyone?
I challenge this law. I am not alone. I want folks to be able to use these new world platforms to make their lives more prosperous, especially for senior citizens, folks who can only work part time, young professionals who want to travel, and ill folks trying to hold onto their homes. We are living in interesting and economically dangerous times. Not everyone has bounced back from the worst economy we have seen in our lifetimes. Santa Monica needs to get off of its bully’s pulpit and make laws that are enacted in an equal and fair-minded way. I say replace these poor thinking volunteers on the Santa Monica City Council with younger, brighter folks equipped to understand changing more and technology. It’s a new world, they need to get rid of their flip phones and suit up for a society where unused and underused resources make the world more fair and equitable for all.