Santa Monica Slaps Airbnb Owners with $500 Fines


The city of Santa Monica, California, which was nicknamed “The People’s Republic of Santa Monica” as far back as the early 1980s, has launched an attack on Airbnb and VRBO, using the Santa Monica City Council’s ban on short-term rentals issued in May 2015.

The city said it has issued citations for roughly 650 violations, and over 500 have been directed at Airbnb and VRBO, according to KPCC.

Contacted by Southern California Public Radio station KPCC, Salvador Valles, assistant director of Santa Monica’s Planning and Community Development, had no comment, but did acknowledge the city’s fines had soared to $500 from $75 in 2015. He added that 102 Santa Monica property owners have been fined for illegally renting out their homes, admitting, “It’s a bit of a whack-a-mole kind of situation where you address it in one area, and they pop up somewhere else.”

Valles added that 962 illegal rental units currently exist in the city.

Airbnb emailed KPCC: “Santa Monica’s clumsily-written law punishes hosts who depend on home sharing to make ends meet or travelers looking for low-cost accommodations along the coast. While we’ve responded to the city’s notices, we continue exploring all options and remain hopeful that the city will revisit these misguided rules that harm middle-income Californians.”

A short-term rental is considered legal if the host stays in the unit with their guests, a practice known as home-sharing.