A lawsuit arguing that Santa Barbara’s position against short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) runs counter to California Coastal Act language supporting affordable seaside lodging survived a judge’s ruling on June 26 in Ventura County Superior Court. “This is a really positive step for us because, finally, there’s an understanding of our logic,” said Theo Kracke, owner of Paradise Retreats, heading up the lawsuit.
Kracke’s contention is that when the city ramped up its crackdown against STVRs in 2015, such enforcement constituted a “development” under the Coastal Act because it removed affordable lodging from the city’s notoriously pricey visitor market. That development should have gone through a public hearing and permitting process. On the other hand, according to City Attorney Ariel Calonne, “It’s nonsensical to complain that the [City Council’s] funding for enhanced enforcement of an existing law violates [the Coastal Act]. Conceptually, [Kracke’s] case is a moon shot, but we’re going to have to prove that now.”
In a related ruling, Judge Mark Borrell did not uphold Kracke’s request that the city’s enforcement program be put on hold while the Coastal Act case is heard.