Airbnb

 

 

A Federal District Court judge dismissed an elderly woman’s lawsuit against Santa Monica’s restrictive AirBnb ordinance Wednesday, further delaying the case that objects to the law under the California Coastal Act.

Santa Monica’s ordinance prohibits listing a home as a vacation rental unless the homeowner is present during the guests’ stay. Arlene Rosenblatt and her husband contend they should be able to list their home on a website like Airbnb while they are traveling out of town to supplement their social security checks.

“It’s just a matter of what court it is going to go through at this point,” Rosenblatt’s attorney, Jordan Esensten, told the Daily Press. “The whole time what Santa Monica has been doing is a delay tactic because they’ve been able to reap a lot of money from these ordinances because they require people to go to hotels instead of Airbnb and they collect the taxes.”

Airbnb is required by the City to collect a 14 percent Transient Occupancy Tax on all reservations 30 nights or shorter in Santa Monica.

Rosenblatt brought the class action lawsuit on behalf of all residential property owners in the city. In March, the District Court dismissed claims that the ordinance violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. However, Esensten still has a case regarding the state law, alleging the ordinance violates the primary goal of the Coastal Act – maximizing access to the coast.

“On the statute itself, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion,” Esensten said. “We’re currently exploring all our options.”

Other homeowners up and down California have filed similar lawsuits, alleging the Coastal Commission has say over Airbnb rental laws. In December, a letter from the Commission’s then-chairman appeared to back up their claims.

“We believe that vacation rentals provide an important source of visitor accommodations in the coastal zone, especially for larger families and groups and for people of a wide range of economic backgrounds,” Steve Kinsey wrote in part.

Santa Monica code enforcement officers have been aggressively pursuing companies and homeowners in breach of the new rules. Earlier this year a judge affirmed 35 out of 36 charges against the rental broker Globe Homes, LLC for posting listings from Santa Monica. The City hailed the ruling as a sign its ordinance could withstand pushback from large companies.

Earlier this month AirBnb settled their lawsuit with the city of San Francisco. The law sets up a registration process for all hosts in city, where it is estimated more than 50 percent of hosts may be out of compliance.

 

kate@www.smdp.com