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Travis C. Logue and Jason W. Wansor, attorneys with Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP, who represent Theo Kracke, have prevailed in trial against the City of Santa Barbara.  On March 8, 2019, Ventura Judge Borrell issued his Final Statement of Decision in Kracke v. City of Santa Barbara (Case No. 56-2016-00490376) overturning Santa Barbara’s 2015 short-term rental ban in the Coastal Zone. 

The judge’s ruling effectively allows short-term vacation rentals in the Coastal Zone immediately. 

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 30600, and Title 28 of the Santa Barbara Municipal Code.”

According to Mr. Kracke, “This is a huge victory for families who rely on affordable accommodations to enjoy the Coastal Zone.  The City fought us every step of the way and forced me to incur enormous legal fees.  Let’s hope City leaders finally see the light and work on reasonable regulation rather than blanket prohibition.  I am genuinely optimistic that new leadership on the council will choose to work collaboratively with the Coastal Commission and the community rather than antagonistically.”  

In a March 11 letter to the Mayor and City Council Members, Mr. Logue urged the body to avoid an appeal:  “The City should embrace providing more affordable access to the Coastal Zone and focus on establishing reasonable regulation through the required legal channels rather than continue this multi-year litigation and escalate our client’s fees which, we assure you, are substantial.  Choosing this path forward as opposed to impeding the public’s access to affordable accommodations within the Coastal Zone, is a ‘win-win’ for the public and the Santa Barbara community; however, the course and resolution of this matter remain squarely in your hands.”

The next step for Mr. Kracke is to recover his considerable legal fees under the private attorney general doctrine (Code of Civil Procedure § 1021.5).  Addressing the City’s early attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out with an anti-SLAPP motion that was widely criticized by legal analysts, Mr. Logue claims, “Since Day One, our client has been subjected to the City’s belligerent litigation tactics directed to escalate his legal fees and break his will.  The City’s primary purpose in bringing the motion was to unnecessarily amplify our clients’ attorneys’ fees and stall the proceedings.  While the City succeeded in the delay and amplification of costs, ironically, it now faces the distinct possibility that Mr. Kracke may be reimbursed for those same increased costs. Ultimately, Mr. Kracke may be entitled to reimbursement of attorneys’ fees in the seven figures.”

Still pending is Mr. Kracke’s cause of action for civil penalties under the Coastal Act (Public Resources Code § 30820(a)(1)).  That hearing will occur in May.

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