HomeIndustry News and TrendsManhattan Beach Faces Huge Legal Bills Over Short-Term Rental Ban


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Manhattan Beach Faces Huge Legal Bills Over Short-Term Rental Ban

Attorney Suggests Refunding Fines For Rentals And, Criticizes The Handling Of The Case


A recent legal case in Manhattan Beach has caused some controversy. The case involves a resident named Darby Keen, who challenged the law banning short-term rentals. After a long legal battle, Keen was successful. A judge recently ordered the City to pay Keen’s appeal fees, which amounted to over $146,000. Excerpts from this article originally appeared at Easy Reader & Peninsula.

However, this is not the end of the matter. There are still more legal fees that need to be decided upon by another court. In total, the legal fees for this case could amount to another $500,000 or more. The $500,000 were Keen’s legal fees from the original case.

Keen’s lawyer, Frank Angel, has argued that there are larger issues at play here than just the legal fees. According to Angel, the City made bad decisions. He says they were not only legally unsound but also financially unsound. The City may have made some costly mistakes that could have been avoided if they had made better decisions.

“The City Council could have saved itself this expense and the expense of paying their own attorneys had they not been so stubborn in fighting us all the way up to the California Supreme Court, based on legal theories that made no sense for the coastal zone,” Angel said. “Within days after we filed suit in July 2019, we offered to dismiss the case in return for the City’s agreement to follow the Coastal Act by submitting its STR ban to the California Coastal Commission for the commission’s approval, or simply refrain from enforcing it — what the courts ultimately ordered the City Council to do. The City Council tersely rejected our offer. Had they accepted it, they would have saved themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees —  the award plus the fees charged by the City Attorney and his law firm —  and would have avoided the loss of millions of dollars in TOT [bed tax]  income.” 

Manhattan Beach City Council passed a ban on short-term rentals in 2015 and then made it stricter in 2019. The 2019 ban included fines of $1,000 per day for those who offered short-term rentals. Residents were worried that short-term rentals would change the character of their neighborhoods.

Angel argued that the City Council went too far and violated the Coastal Act. The Coastal Act is meant to protect public access to the coast. The Coastal Commission has protected short-term rentals in the past. The Commission has warned cities not to ban short-term rentals outright. Other cities like Santa Cruz and San Francisco have put limits on short-term rentals. Those limits have been approved by the Coastal Commission.

The City of Manhattan Beach talked to the Coastal Commission but did not change its Coastal Plan. The City of Manhattan Beach went ahead with its ban on short-term rentals.

““The vast majority of coastal cities in California understand their responsibilities under the Coastal Act,” Angel said. “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.” 

Manhattan Beach City Council’s ban on short-term rentals outside the coastal zone is still in effect. City leaders believe that the character of the city is at risk if short-term rentals are allowed. Councilman Steve Napolitano disagreed with the California Supreme Court’s decision. He believed that the Coastal Commission, which wants cities to allow short-term rentals in coastal zones, was wrong. He argued that short-term rentals hurt long-term renters and make housing more difficult to find. Napolitano said that the city needs to protect its community and not just focus on profits.

Manhattan Beach City released a statement. In that statement, they said they believe their ban on short-term rentals is legal under state law. The city says it can ban short-term rentals because they are for commercial use. They say short-term rentals may also decrease the housing supply. The city is reviewing its options following the court ruling against its Coastal Zone ban on short-term rentals

Attorney Frank Angel has criticized the city’s handling of the case. He suggested the city should refund fines for those who had short-term rentals under the illegal ban. Angel has also said that the city’s law firm might have a conflict of interest. He said the law firm would benefit financially from appealing the case.

You can see the original article over at Easy Reader & Peninsula

Johnny Yakubik
Johnny Yakubikhttps://vacationmasters.com
Johnny Yakubik is a short-term rental expert and, the editor of Vacation Masters. Vacation Masters is a platform that helps short-term rental hosts optimize their income. Johnny is an 18X Superhost and served as an Airbnb Ambassador in 2021 and, 2022. He also owned and ran a property management company, Big Bear On Demand in California. Johnny continues to manage properties he owns in California and, Hawaii. He also does coaching and co-hosting for others. Johnny helps others succeed in short-term rentals with his experience and knowledge.


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