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Santa Monica Moves to Tighten Strict Home Sharing Law

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

September 3, 2019 -- The nation's strictest home sharing ordinance could be further tightened after the Santa Monica City Council directed staff to look for ways to limit hostel-style operations.

The Council unanimously voted to revisit the ordinance last Tuesday after a single-family home was rented to multiple guests in the City's upscale North of Montana neighborhood ("Home Rented as Quasi Hostel Raises Concerns About Home-Sharing Law," August 13, 2019).

Code enforcers and the Fire Department have been investigating whether the operator of the house at 710 Adelaide Place violated any laws or codes.

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But Council members said a similar operation is being run in Sunset Park, and they worry the trend could spread.

"We got out in front of the issue, but you can learn from experience," said Council member Ted Winterer, referring to Santa Monica's strict 2015 home sharing ordinance.

"This is an opportunity to tighten it up so it is not abused by people who are just dropping wholescale businesses right in our residential neighborhoods."

Winterer's motion directs staff to explore limiting the number of home shares that any one property owner can operate, as well as the number of guests that can occupy a room or dwelling.

While the City's 2015 Home-Sharing Ordinance requires the host to live on the premises and restricts stays to 30 days, it does not limit the number of guests.

Home sharing hosts, however, must abide by all health, safety, building and fire protection laws, which restrict the number of occupants, City officials said.

City records show the applicant for the home sharing license at 710 Adelaide listed 16 guests on the application.

The listing on Airbnb advertises a bunk bed for $49 per night with a maximum of 36 people per night.

"We wrote the strictest ordinance in the country," said Councilmember Kevin McKeown. "Anytime we write an ordinance, people try to skirt it."

In the case of the home sharing ordinance McKeown said there are "loophole seeking opportunistic things that have happened."

The Council also directed staff to explore hiking the fine for violations of the ordinance, which has withstood court challenges ("California Appeals Court Lets Stand Santa Monica's Homesharing Law," August 20, 2019).

After neighbors of the Adelaide property filed complaints with the City in late July, code enforcement and Fire Department officials launched an investigation.

The investigation has not yet concluded.

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