A California appeals court will soon hear oral arguments in a case filed by conservative Arizona think tank Goldwater Institute against the city of Pacific Grove for what the plaintiffs call illegal regulation of short-term rentals. In 2018, the institute backed William and Susan Hobbs' lawsuit claiming the city denied them due process when a lottery system barred them from renting out their home as a vacation property. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Lydia Villarreal rejected the allegation since Pacific Grove's short-term rental licensing agreement stated that the term of the license was for 12 months, with no guarantee of renewal. Goldwater appealed, and the case will go before a three-judge panel on Oct. 11. Pacific Grove city attorney David Laredo said the idea of a "perpetual property right," which the Hobbs are basically arguing for, would ban cities from regulating uses with a fixed timeframe. "It would be like having a permit for a garage sale on Saturday and then expect it to be valid the following Saturday and the Saturday after that — perpetual Saturdays," he said. With the Hobbs having sold the property that was the focus of the lawsuit, the legal question also arises of whether they still have legal standing. "[The Hobbs] argue for the creation of a new vested property right allowing for the continued use of their property as a short-term vacation rental," wrote the League of California Cities in an amicus brief. "This vesting will cripple local governments' ability to regulate land use and zoning and to preserve the character and aesthetic of cities. These important and legitimate government interests are afforded to cities through the police powers granted by the California Constitution."
Mercury News (09/30/22) Dennis L. Taylor