Appeal court rules against Santa Barbara’s vacation rental ban

By KAREN VELIE

With the help of the California Coastal Commission, a property owner won a victory against the City of Santa Barbara and its vacation rental ban. In his lawsuit, Theo Kracke accuses Santa Barbara of enacting a 2015 illegal ban on short-term vacation rentals.

In 2019, a superior court judge ruled that Santa Barbara must allow short-term vacation rentals in the coastal zone as it did before banning them in 2015. The city then appealed the decision to the Second Appellate District Court in Ventura.

The California Coastal Commission filed an amicus brief in support of Kracke’s case noting the ban violated the California Coastal Act, which requires the public to have access to affordable accommodations in the coastal zone.

After almost five years of litigation, on May 4, the 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed Kracke’s trial court victory and overturned Santa Barbara’s short-term vacation rental ban in the Coastal Zone.

Judges Steven Perren, Kenneth Yegan and Martin Tangeman’s ruling protects the rights of property owners to rent out residences near the coast.

“The city incorrectly contends that because STVRs are not expressly included in the LCP, they are therefore excluded, giving the city the right to regulate them without regard to the Coastal Act,” Perren wrote.

The judges also granted Kracke the ability to recover his legal costs from the city.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Kracke said. “The city fought us every step of the way. Now is their prime opportunity to draft fair regulation of STVRs rather than continue to waste taxpayer money and seek review by the California Supreme Court.”

Travis C. Logue and Jason W. Wansor, attorneys with Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP, represent Kracke.

“This published decision has statewide implications,” Logue said. “It’s a major victory for Californians who prefer affordable vacation accommodations along the coast. Our client deserves huge credit for waging this battle. He’s taken arrows from all sides and faced ridicule by the City Attorney’s office. Anyone who uses or operates STVRs in
Santa Barbara should thank him.”

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