Landlord Wins Short-Term Vacation Rental Lawsuit Against Santa Barbara | Miller Starr Regalia


On May 4, 2021, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the court of first instance, in Kracke v. City of Santa Barbara, __ Cal.App.5th __ (2021) (Case # B300528), directing the City of Santa Barbara to enforce a ban on short-term seasonal rentals in the coastal area, through proactive enforcement of zoning bylaws existing ones, unless it obtains Coastal Commission approval or a waiver of such a requirement.

Prior to 2015, the City encouraged short-term seasonal rentals along its coast by treating them as permitted residential uses. The City only required the landlord to register the rental, obtain a business license, and pay the transitional occupancy tax. But in June 2015, the City began to regulate vacation rentals as “hotels” through a stricter interpretation of its zoning ordinance, which effectively banned rentals in the coastal zone. Although the Coastal Act defines the term “development” broadly and requires a coastal development permit for “any change in the density or intensity of land use,” the City has not applied for. coastal development permit or modification of its certified local coastal program. before instituting the ban.

The owner of a business that manages short-term vacation rentals sued the city, challenging its new enforcement policy as “development” under the Coast Act. The trial court explained that the loss of short-term rentals had an impact on “density or intensity of land use,” as rentals provide a resource for individuals and families to visit the Santa coast. Barbara. Therefore, he issued a writ demanding that the City allow short-term seasonal rentals in the coastal area on the same basis that the City had allowed them to operate prior to June 2015, until the City obtained a permit to operate. coastal planning or otherwise complies with coastal law.

The Court of Appeal relied heavily on Greenfield Community Association v. Mandalay Shores., a 2018 case in which the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that a ban on short-term vacation rentals by an Oxnard homeowners association had altered the intensity of use and access to single family residences in the coastal area and had to be approved by the city. and Coastal Commission. The Court in Kracke explained that “the same is true here.” Although the City, rather than a private entity, imposed the ban on short-term vacation rentals on the coast, it was also accomplished without input or approval from the Commission. The City cannot act unilaterally. A sin Greenfield, “[t]the decision to ban or regulate [short-term vacation rentals] in the coastal zone is for the City and the Commission to decide.

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