.Letter to the Editor: Occupancy Limit

A letter to the editor of Good Times

Lynn Rennshaw’s letter to the editor (GT, 7/20) corrected several errors in Ms. Moya’s story. Unfortunately, Ms. Moya’s response contained even more errors.

Without acknowledging her error, Moya tacitly agreed with Rennshaw’s correction that the EHT requires all homeowners—not just landlords—to file an annual affidavit (under threat of criminal penalty) swearing to occupancy. This has nothing to do with being a landlord or owner-occupier. However, Moya made numerous other errors and other misleading assertions.

Ms. Moya falsely states that the tax applies to “Airbnbs unoccupied for at least 120 days” (i.e., occupied for 8 months). This is untrue for several reasons:

1. EHT Section 3.38.040(G)(1)(h) exempts all registered short-term rentals regardless of the number of days of occupancy.’

2. Properties do not owe the tax if they are occupied for at least 120 days/year, not if they are “unoccupied for at least 120 days.”

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3. About half of the city’s STRs are so-called “hosted,” which by definition means that the owner lives in them at least half the year. That itself would make those STRs exempt from the tax regardless of the other exemptions I describe.

4. Properties that are unregistered vacation rentals are already in violation of city ordinance, and the city has been actively enforcing this ordinance for years. Regardless, if there still are any that exist, they would not be in violation of the EHT even if they’re rented unlawfully and otherwise occupied for at least 120 days/year. If Ms. Moya is referring to these properties (if there even are any) she certainly doesn’t make that clear in her story. Furthermore, these property owners are already defying the city’s laws and could hardly be expected to comply with the EHT. 

As Lynn Rennshaw pointed out, Ms. Moya used the term “empty vacation rentals” several times, when it does not apply to them. Perhaps she was confused about this because many of the EHT proponents also incorrectly believe that the EHT applies to vacation rentals when it does not.

Eric Grodberg

Santa Cruz

RESPONSE: While the original article explained the regulation accurately, Eric is correct. The phrase “unoccupied for at least 120 days” in our reporter’s response should have been “if they are not in use for at least 120 days per year, or empty for more than 8 months.” We regret the error.  — Editor

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