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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Airbnb dealt another blow in Santa Monica

A judge’s ruling supports the city’s strict home-sharing ordinance
March 16, 2018 09:04AM

Santa Monica skyline (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Santa Monica has gotten tough on Airbnb and HomeAway, and now it’s getting support in the courts.

A U.S. District Court judge handed the city a preliminary win in its two-year battle to severely restrict the home-sharing companies’ ability to operate.

Judge Otis Wright denied an injunction that sought to suspend the city’s ordinance regarding home-sharing rental platforms while the parties duke it out in court, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Along with imposing taxes on short-term rentals, the ordinance requires that hosts be present while renting their spaces to guests.

The two platforms, which sued the city over the ordinance in 2016, have two weeks to appeal Wright’s decision. The district court is scheduled to hear the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on March 26.

Airbnb and HomeAway’s request for an injunction was based on their argument that Santa Monica’s ordinance violated the company’s First Amendment rights, among others, according to the Daily Press.

The ruling comes a few weeks after the city published a report claiming only 187 of the 950 estimated short-term rentals in Santa Monica complied with the law over a two-year period. The city estimated that Airbnb made $31 million in Santa Monica over that period.

Airbnb hasn’t fared well in other L.A. County cities lately. Last week, West Hollywood banned renters from subletting their apartments on the site.

The L.A. City Council could soon debate a law that would greatly limit the number of days a host could rent their properties on the service as well.

Hosts reportedly skirted the ordinance by falsely claiming their rentals were across the border in the city of Los Angeles and even by taking down listings during business hours at Santa Monica City Hall to dodge city regulators. [SMDP] — Dennis Lynch