SANTA MONICA- On Wednesday, December 16, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office announced that the owners of a Santa Monica hotel agreed to a settlement of one million dollars. Sunshine Enterprises violated California law by falsely representing to the California Coastal Commission that its proposed construction of the Shore Hotel would replace the two older lower-cost motels formerly on the property, with low or moderate cost lodging, according to the civil complaint.
“The planning and permitting process ensures our community has the opportunity to provide input into what our neighborhoods look and feel like for decades to come. When that process is subverted, some of us are making decisions for all of us,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón in an official statement.
Without the proper permits, Sunshine Enterprises demolished its existing motels and erected the new Shore Hotel that is described as a luxury boutique hotel on the company’s website.
According to the settlement, the company must pay $250,000 in civil penalties in addition to a $15.6 million penalty that has already been paid to the California Coastal Commission.
According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, “The combined civil penalties paid to the commission and the District Attorney’s Office is the largest penalty ever imposed for violations of California’s Coastal Act, which regulates development of coastal areas and mandates the commission preserve affordable access to California’s coastline.”
The company must also pay $750,000 in restitution to the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Trust Fund for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. However, the settlement incentivizes the company to pay up to $500,000 in discounted rates to essential workers and first responders.
This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Seza Mikikian of the Consumer Protection Division and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun.