SANTA MONICA—Scott Shatford, a local operator of an illegal vacation rental business, has been prosecuted and charged with operating his rental business without City Permits and not complying with City Administrative Citations, according to the press release by the City Attorney’s Office.
Shatford’s arrest is the first conviction from the city’s new Vacation Rental Enforcement Task Force. According to the Santa Monica Observer, Shatford doesn’t own property. He rented several apartments and listed them on his site scottshatford.com or AIRBNB as vacation rentals.
The “Task Force,” is a unit of the City’s Code Enforcement Division that is trained to target illegal vacation rental businesses operating in Santa Monica. According to the Santa Monica Observer, the Task Force consists of three people hired to enforce the anti-short term rental law.
The Task Force attempted to work with Mr. Shatford and educate him. He received multiple warnings and citations with fines. The defendant continued to operate his illegal vacation rentals located in several residential buildings and was “not concerned” about the local law because it would be “difficult” for the city to enforce the law.
Denise Smith, Code Enforcement Analyst for the city of Santa Monica indicated that “The City Council really wanted us to make sure that the housing stock was not impacted by that type of activity, in this case we had a gentleman who had more than one short term rental. Shatford’s is the type of post we want to impact. We have a lot of people doing it on one unit, and they’re violating the law too, but they’re not our top priority. If they’re doing multiple rental units, they’re a priority.”
Mr. Shatford was in court on Tuesday, July 5, where he pleaded “no contest” to the misdemeanor charge of operating his illegal vacation rental business in the city of Santa Monica. He took a plea deal with the City Attorney’s Office and was placed on 24 months of probation. Mr. Shatford had to end his business in Santa Monica, pay approximately $3,500 in fines and investigative costs towards the City, pay money on criminal fines and victim restitution, and follow other laws and permits.
According to Smith the law indicates that, “it does not matter if you rent the unit or own it. If you’re renting it out for less than 30 days while you are not there, you’re violating the law. Los Angeles is currently considering a similar ordinance, there’s is a little different than ours, I believe they’re going to allow it for 90 days a year.”
Salvador Valles, Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development, who has responsibility over Code Enforcement and the Task Force indicated that, “This is a positive and fair result”. Valles added that “Last year, when the Council adopted Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 6.20, which reaffirmed the City’s longstanding prohibition against vacation rentals in Santa Monica, it clearly reiterated its deep interest in and concerns about protecting Santa Monica’s diverse permanent rental housing stock.”
The purpose of the law provides home-sharing, but that using a home as a vacation rental and operating it as a hotel brings harm to the housing diversity. That affects and displaces long term rent-controlled tenants. To report an illegal vacation rental business call the Task Force at (310) 458-4984.