Citizens Group Takes Legal Action over Short-Term Rental Law

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A citizens group filed a legal action against the city of Malibu, alleging the City Council's approval of a short-term rental ordinance in November did not include a proper assessment of its potential impact on the environment.

Citizens for Responsible Short-Term Rental Regulation brought the petition Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking a court order directing the city to vacate the ordinance and conduct a “legally adequate environmental review.''

Malibu City Attorney Trevor Rusin did not immediately return a call for comment.

The City Council held a public hearing Nov. 5 to consider the ordinance and on Nov. 23 approved the measure. The ordinance amended the Malibu Municipal Code governing the rental of residential units for 30 days or less and requires the presence of an onsite host as well as other restrictions.

But according to the petitioners, short-term rentals cause “numerous significant impacts on Malibu's sensitive coastal environment, serene beaches, picturesque coastal hillsides and rustic community.''

The city “erroneously determined that the project was exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act,'' according to the petition, which notes that the citizens group objected to the exemption.

Many of Malibu's residential neighborhoods, both single- and multi-family, are directly adjacent to public beaches, coastal bluffs, rock outcroppings and other resources, the petition states. Vast stretches of Malibu's hillsides are environmentally sensitive habitats and are given heightened protection under the Coastal Act, the petition states.

The citizens group and other community members made oral and written comments “exhaustively documenting the operational environmental consequences of short-term rentals, including illegal trash disposal, illegally parked vehicles, buildings falling into disrepair,'' the petition states.

The ordinance is likely to provide incentive for host renters to develop more guest houses and accessory dwelling units in single-family zones so they won't have to cohabit with their guests, the petition states.

“The resulting concentration of short-term rentals will foreseeably result in aesthetic, biological, noise, land- use and other impacts,'' the petition states.

Photo: Getty Images

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