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Efforts to Temporarily Halt Santa Monica's Home-Sharing Law Fails in Court


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By Lookout Staff

March 14, 2018 -- Santa Monica can continue enforcing its "home-sharing" law after a U.S. District Court last week denied a motion by AirBnB and HomeAway for a preliminary injunction.

The Court's ruling Friday in the the Central District of California held that the platforms are "not likely to prevail on their claims that the City’s ordinance is unlawful" under the federal Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), the First Amendment and the California Coastal Act, City officials said.

“In the midst of a statewide housing crisis, (the) decision affirms that the City of Santa Monica can take reasonable steps to protect residential units from conversion into de facto hotels," City Attorney Lane Dilg said in a statement.

The decision still allows individuals to "share their homes with guests for compensation in authorized circumstances,” Dilg said. “We applaud this important ruling.”

AirBnB and HomeAway filed suit in September 2016, in an effort to invalidate the City's law, which is considered the most restrictive in the country. The City of Los Angeles filed an amicus brief supporting Santa Monica’s law.

In its ruling, the court found the Communications Decency Act does not protect the plaintiffs because Santa Monica's law does not penalize publishing activities, but instead prevents unlawful business transactions on their websites.

The law also does not violate the First Amendment because it "regulates conduct
and not speech," officials said.

In striking down the argument that the law conflicts with the Coastal Act, the Court ruled that, like any other California municipality, Santa Monica "retains its constitutionally-granted police powers to enact zoning regulations, officials said.

“We agree with the Court that the Ordinance is a constitutional exercise of the City’s legislative authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residential neighborhoods," said Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen.

The City has filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss the lawsuit. A hearing has been scheduled or March 26.


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