Man Sues Hermosa Beach Over Short-Term Rental Ban

Hermosa Beach is one of California's most popular vacation spots, attracting visitors with its sunny beaches and two-mile stretch of multi-million-dollar oceanfront properties.

Many homeowners advertise their properties on short-term vacation rental websites like Airbnb. One condo building right on the strand has four units available for short-term stays - for about $4,000 per week in the summer.

Resident Paul Stockwell says with all the raucous visitors, it's like living in a hotel.

"Sometimes you get 10 or 15 people in one unit," he said. "Last week there were 20 in a unit up front. That's a little too much."

Due to complaints like Stockewell's, city officials decided to ban short-term rentals, threatening stiff fines for homeowners who rent their property for less than 30 days. That's sparked a lawsuit by homeowner Jim Holtz.

"They're doing this to push us out of business as fast as possible," Holtz said.

Holtz, who is disabled, says renting his two-bedroom condo is his primary source of income, so he's taking the city to court and has support from the California Coastal Commission.

The state agency charged with protecting public access to the coast sent city officials two letters saying the ban on short term rentals violates the Coastal Act by limiting lower cost options for visitors.

Holtz wants the ban overturned and replaced by better regulations on rental properties.

"We expect to have reasonable regulations, like how many people can be in the unit parties, things that would respect the neighbors," Holtz said.

The ban could also affect overall tourism, such as annual volleyball tournaments that attracts more than 1,000 teenage players every year. Many of them come and stay in short term rentals.

"They do have the opportunity to go other places as well, as these event owners who can take these events and move them other places around the country," said Troy Olson, a sponsor of Beach Volleyball Clubs of America.

Assistant city attorney Christi Hogan believes existing law already prohibits short-term rentals and the city is well within its legal rights to enforce the ban without a permit from the Coastal Commission.

The two sides go to court Aug. 25.

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