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San Francisco and 11 Other Cities Support Santa Monica’s Defense of its Home-Sharing Ordinance

By Staff Writer

Last week, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland and Santa Cruz were joined by cities across the country in supporting Santa Monica’s Home Sharing Ordinance.

The amicus brief comes in response to a petition by Airbnb and HomeAway.com calling for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its March 13, 2019 ruling upholding the Home Sharing Ordinance against claims that it was preempted by the federal Communications Decency Act. On July 1, 2019, the City filed a response asking the court to deny the petition because the “panel correctly applied this Court’s precedent to hold that the City of Santa Monica’s ‘Home-Sharing Ordinance’ – an essential element of City efforts to preserve housing in the face of rising residential rents and unauthorized vacation rentals — is not preempted.”

The amicus brief was filed by San Francisco; the District of Columbia; the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore; Cook County, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Gary, Indiana; Oakland; Sacramento; Santa Cruz; Seattle; and Somerville, Massachusetts, all cities and jurisdictions across the country “striving to preserve and expand affordable housing for their residents.” Public Rights Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to supporting local and state government efforts to protect the rights of their communities, was also part of the filing.  The brief cites the “proliferation of short-term rentals” in these Cities that has reduced “the number of rental units otherwise available for permanent rental housing.”  The brief defends Santa Monica’s ordinance as an effort to “strike an appropriate balance between encouraging the innovation of the short-term rental market and preserving and increasing access to affordable housing.”

Two other amicus briefs supporting Santa Monica’s position were filed by associations representing the apartment and rental housing industries and UNITE HERE International Union, which represents hotel and retail workers.

Santa Monica has some of the strictest home-share regulations in the United States, outlawing rentals of whole houses to tourists and travelers for under 30 days. In addition, vacation-rental hosts in Santa Monica can only rent individual rooms to guests and must be present in the residence throughout the entire stay.

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