After 2 ½ years of tough litigation against the City of Santa Barbara, it appears attorneys Travis C. Logue and Jason W. Wansor of Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP (on behalf of their client, Theo Kracke), are one step closer to overturning the City’s 2015 decision to ban short-term vacation rentals in the Coastal Zone.

In the Tentative Decision and Proposed Statement of Decision dated February 20, 2019, the court ruled and ordered that “…a writ shall issue commanding the City of Santa Barbara to allow short-term vacation rentals in the Coastal Zone on the same basis as the City had allowed them to operate prior to June 23, 2015, until such time as the City obtains a Coastal Development Permit or otherwise complies with the provisions of the Coastal Act of 1976, including Public Resources Code section 30600, and Title 28 of the Santa Barbara Municipal Code.”

According to Mr. Kracke, “This is a tentative decision, so we are cautiously optimistic.  Nevertheless, we are thrilled it appears the court embraced our arguments that the City acted improperly. If the Final Decision falls our way, it will be a victory for those people who could not otherwise enjoy the Santa Barbara coastline.  Given the City’s aggressive tactics over the last few years, I am sure this fight will continue.”

In addition, the tentative decision provides, “The court finds that [Mr. Kracke] has prevailed on his first and third causes of action.  The judgment in the matter shall include the relief awarded to [Mr. Kracke], as set forth above.  This tentative decision is the proposed statement of decision and shall become the court’s final statement unless, within 10 days after announcement or service of the tentative decision (plus five days for service by mail), a party specifies those principal controverted issues as to which the party is requesting a statement of decision or makes proposals not included in the tentative decision.”

Kracke’s lawsuit challenges the City's ban on STVRs, alleging that the City’s actions are illegal and in contravention to various policies set forth in the Coastal Act and the City’s municipal code.  Central among these policies are the requirements that the general public must have affordable accommodations within and access to the Coastal Zone.  In implementing its ban against STVRs, the City violated these policies and failed to apply for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to ensure that its actions conformed to the Coastal Act and its own Local Coastal Plan and municipal code.

The next status conference is scheduled for March 18, 2019, where the court may determine the procedure related to hearing arguments on whether the City is liable for civil penalties under the Coastal Act.

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