Manhattan Beach Pier [Photo Credit: Amelia Noyes]

California court rules short-term rental ban unenforceable

US: California Superior Court judge James Chalfant ruled that the city of Manhattan Beach’s attempt to ban short-term rentals was unenforceable.

The judgement claimed that the ban was in violation of the California Coastal Act, and that rentals can return to the city effective immediately.

The city passed two distinct measures to limit rentals in the city in 2015 and 2019, the second law being a stricter iteration of the first. Neither received approval from the Coastal Commission, which is charged with protecting public access to the coastline.

Residents, however, were dissatisfied with the city and filed a lawsuit against the city. The suit was led by Darby Keen, who previously rented a home in the city.

Frank Angel, Keen’s attorney, said to Easy Reader: “This strikes me as a blatant disregard of their responsibilities to provide public access to the coast. It’s a no-brainer. And that’s why we got such a strong judgment. It was a really ham-handed attempt to avoid it.”

The decision ruled that ordinances banning rentals under the month did not fall under city jurisdiction. Manhattan Beach’s regulatory coastal plan, the agreement forged between the city and the Coastal Commission, required laws within the coastal area be approved by the board.

The Commission has repeatedly denied permission to cities seeking outright bans on short-term rentals within the state. It has been willing to provide support for smaller scale regulation, including limitations in Santa Cruz  and San Francisco, which have included measures such as capped rental permits and limits to which properties can be rented.

Angel added: “The vast majority of coastal cities in California understand their responsibilities under the Coastal Act. They have worked with the California Coastal Commission to enact reasonable regulations of short-term rentals — regulations that serve to protect the interests of all stakeholders.”

As other California cities seek to add rental restrictions, this case may provide precedent limiting other cities’ legal scope. Courts are now currently questioning the liability of Manhattan Beach towards owners who were prevented from operating during this period.

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