Malibu’s Airbnb order rejected by Coast Commission

Hans Laetz / Daily Press Special

A legal scheme drafted by Malibu Councilman Bruce Silverstein and signed by the Malibu City Council fell apart before the California Coastal Commission on Friday, when the Coastal Commission said all rules governing short-term vacation rentals (STR) in the city were null and void. .

By a vote of five to three, the commission told the city that its plan to regulate overnight rentals was too strict. And by refusing to negotiate a compromise with Coast Commission staff, the death of the STR ordinance means that all of the city’s rules on overnight rentals are not legally valid, the commission chairwoman told reporters. Malibu officials.

The city’s proposal to ban overnight rentals without a host present was intended to prevent party house rentals. But Coastal staff said that would drive too many Malibu owners out of the overnight rental business.

Silverstein, an attorney, had hatched a legal strategy of telling Coast Commission staff that the city would not negotiate and would simply start enforcing city zoning codes that he said prohibit commercial activity in neighborhoods. residential.

The problem is that state coastal law takes precedence over these zoning codes. And the city of Malibu has never enacted an ordinance prohibiting overnight house rentals; on the contrary, it allows DOS if a fee is paid.

Now even that is in question. The Coast Commission chair said Friday that Malibu does not have certified overnight rental rules, which means a landlord could violate Malibu’s permit, fees and safety requirements with impunity.

At the Coast Commission hearing on Friday, Silverstein began by attacking Coast Commission staff for rejecting the city’s plan to require hosts to rent overnight.

“Here, what I see consistently – and certainly here today – is a report that simply dismisses and disparages anyone who has contributed anything in support of this compromise proposal,” Silverstein said. “It’s the result of a multi-year process in Malibu. People were heard from all directions. This allows for short term rentals. It also protects the residential character of Malibu’s neighborhoods which, under a proper interpretation of zoning, should not permit short-term rentals to passing visitors at all.

“The highest courts in several states have addressed this issue and directly ruled that the ban on zoning ordinances for residential neighborhoods, when properly interpreted, in fact prevents short-term rentals – period,” said continued Silverstein. “I believe this is the correct interpretation of the Malibu zoning ordinance.”

Coast Commission Chair Donne Brownsey responded that other states don’t have strongly worded coastal law or a coastal commission mandated by voters and the state legislature to nullify places like Malibu.

Brownsey clarified that the Coast Commission is running the show, not the acting mayor of Malibu, and that the staff report is correct.

“You’re applying an uncertified order… It’s a violation of coastal law,” Brownsey said. “So…if someone doesn’t comply [with Malibu’s STR ordinance]legally, they don’t have to comply.

Brownsey said Malibu had no legal basis to rely on if it tried to enforce a supposed rule against renting a home for any period. Malibu cannot enforce an STR ordinance until that ordinance is certified as Coastal Law by the Coast Commission.

In fact, the president almost said that by not negotiating with Coastal, Malibu shot itself in the foot.

Thus, Malibu’s STR order is dead until Malibu can come up with a compromise acceptable to the Commission.

And there is an opening for that. It was a five-to-three vote and some of the Coastal Commissioners felt that overnight rentals displace low-income people along the coast.

This includes commissioner Paula Aguirre of Imperial Beach.

“The impacts are really felt primarily by workers and I would just ask us to consider whether the displacement caused by short-term rentals, whether those rentals are in multi-family areas or single-family areas, is affecting our coastal visitors? ” says Aguirre.

“Absolutely – it absolutely is,” Aguirre continued. “Because who do we think is out of place with these short-term rentals? These are the workers who serve our coastal visitors.

But the Coast Commission chairman had strong words for Silverstein.

Brownsey reiterated that Malibu cannot impose any action against people who rent overnight rentals until it comes up with a plan approved by the Commission.

” It’s the law. You just can’t pretend it’s not there,” Brownsey said. “You need to come to the Coastal Commission so that we can help you achieve the right goals. We’re not trying to get in your way; we try to ensure a balance and that you obey the law. It’s our job. We’re not trying to be mean, we’re just trying to do our job.

The ball is now back in Malibu’s court.

The city can direct its staff to meet with Coastal staff to see if some sort of compromise can be reached on the issue of hosts during overnight rentals and refer the order back to the Commission.

Incidentally, one of the major issues for the commissioners was the lack of hotel rooms along the Malibu coast and the need for visitors to spend the night renting rooms in houses instead of being able to stay in a hotel. Next week, at its August 23 meeting, the Malibu Planning Commission will consider renewing a permit to convert the last possible large vacant lot in Malibu from hotel uses to a cemetery.

A version of this story first aired on KBUU News Malibu.

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