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California Appeals Court Lets Stand Santa Monica's Homesharing Law

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By Lookout Staff

August 20, 2019 -- A California Appeals Court last week declined a petition from two major online rental platforms requesting that the court rehear a case challenging Santa Monica's homesharing law.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Friday lets stand the City's strict 2015 Home-Sharing Ordinance it upheld in March after a U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by Airbnb and

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The plaintiffs argued that the local ordinance was upending their business model by forcing them to remove illegal listings and posed an economic threat to the growing industry if other cities follow suit ("Challenge to Santa Monica's Home-Sharing Law Reaches Court of Appeals," October 15, 2018).

The plaintiffs' petition asked that either the three-judge appeals panel or an en banc panel drawn from the full Court rehear the case. The plaintiffs can request a hearing from the U.S Supreme Court.

“We are thrilled to have confirmation from the Ninth Circuit that our balanced approach to home sharing is permitted at a time when housing and affordability continue to challenge the region,” Mayor Gleam Davis said in a statement Monday.

“This is a big win for Santa Monica residents and our residential neighborhoods.”

The City received amicus support from a dozen cities and counties, including San Francisco, Seattle and Baltimore and a dozen state and national special interest groups.

“Santa Monica’s Home-Sharing Ordinance is a lawful regulation and a key element in the City’s efforts to produce, preserve, and protect housing in our community," City Attorney Lane Dilg said.

"The Court’s decision will help state and local governments across the country as they work to preserve affordability and protect housing for those who live and work in their regions,” Dilg said.

In its March 13 ruling, the appeals court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims that Santa Monica's law violates the Communications Decency Act ("Appeals Court Affirms Santa Monica's Right to Regulate Online Homesharing Platforms," March 13, 2019).

The plaintiffs argued that the 1996 act, which was an effort to regulate pornographic material on the Internet, shields online platforms from liability for content posted on their sites.

They also argued that Santa Monica's law illegally required them to police their sites.

Santa Monica's law -- considered the strictest in the nation -- restricts stays to 30 days and requires the host to live on the premises, list their units on a City registry and pay a hotel tax.

In September 2017, Airbnb filed a lawsuit alleging the local ordinance was "clumsily-written" and included multiple violations of federal law ("Santa Monica Sued by Airbnb," September 7, 2016).

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