Santa Monica Lookout
B e s t   l o c a l   s o u r c e   f o r   n e w s   a n d   i n f o r m a t i o n

Lawsuit Claims Santa Monica’s Short-Term Rental Ban Unconstitutional
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

July 12, 2016 -- An 81-year-old retired LAUSD teacher who says she and her husband need the money earned through renting their Santa Monica house short-term filed a lawsuit against the City for its ban on the practice, which has spiked recently worldwide because of advertising websites such as Airbnb.

Arlene Rosenblatt, represented by Los Angeles attorneys Robert and Jordan Esensten, filed the class-action suit late last month alleging the ban approved by the City Council in May 2015 violates the U.S. Constitution.

She is asking for the ordinance to be thrown out and to be compensated with an unspecified amount of money.

The complaint says the ban “substantially burdens interstate commerce and discriminates in favor of Santa Monica businesses and interests at the expense of non-Santa Monica residents and interests” and “constitutes an unreasonable restriction on the use of privately owned property.”

City Attorney Marsha Moutrie did not respond to The Lookout’s request for comment on the suit prior to the publication deadline. She is scheduled to talk about it with the council during the closed session portion of its meeting on Tuesday.

Rosenblatt and her husband had been renting their two-bedroom home for $350 per night while they were on vacation, according to the complaint.

She told various media outlets last year that they needed the money because their retirement income earned through her pension and his social security did not amount to much.

The council had approved the prohibition in response to neighbors’ complaints that some Santa Monica buildings were turning into de facto hotels -- leading to significant noise and pollution as well as removing much-needed housing stock from the residential market ("Santa Monica Moves to Ban Short-term Vacation Rentals," April 30, 2015).

Rosenblatt’s suit alleges the real reason for the ban was “to steer travelers back to more expensive Santa Monica hotels and to prevent interstate competition from negatively impacting hotel revenue and the revenue the City receives" from transient occupancy taxes.

By making an overnight stay in Santa Monica more expensive, the ordinance reduces tourism and other interstate activities within the city, Rosenblatt alleges.

“The ordinance treats interstate travelers as unfriendly aliens and prevents them from being able to associate with and assimilate into local communities,” her complaint states.

Her complaint also points to the ordinance's feature that allows residents to rent space in a home for less than 30 days if the owner continues to live in the residence. She alleged that is discriminatory against non-residents.

“A New York resident who owns property in Santa Monica would never be permitted to utilize his property for short-term rentals because as a New York resident he would never qualify for the home sharing exception,” her complaint states.

The complaint further alleges that not only are people like Rosenblatt losing potential income, their properties are depreciating in value because “a valuable and lucrative economic use” has been eliminated.

“Santa Monica residential property is one of the most expensive in the country, due in large part to its attractiveness to potential renters and tourists,” the complaint states.

The fine for violating the Santa Monica ordinance is $500 per day.

The City announced in March that it had collected more than $40,000 in fines and removed more than 600 illegal listings (“Santa Monica Enforcers Crack Down on Short-Term Rentals,” March 22, 2016).

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2016 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures