Sun. May 26th, 2024

The Santa Ana City Council passed a rent control ordinance back in 2021 and then forced landlords to enter all their data in a rent registry in 2023. This week the Santa Ana City Council also banned short-term rentals, such as those popularized by the app Airbnb.

At the April 2, 2024 meeting, the Santa Ana City Council adopted an urgency ordinance and conducted a first reading of a standard ordinance to amend the Santa Ana Municipal Code (SAMC) to add Article XXI to Chapter 8 of the SAMC, thereby prohibiting Short- Term Rentals. The standard ordinance, approved 4:3 with Councilmember Bacerra, Mayor Pro Tem Phan, and Mayor Amezcua dissenting, requires a second reading. The urgency ordinance, under a standalone motion and approved with unanimous votes, went into full force and effect immediately.

The City of Santa Ana never legalized short-term rentals and now these ordinances have banned them outright.

Some of the City Council Members complained that the short-term rentals were mostly operated by out of town corporations and they cause noise and trash and other disturbances in our city.

However there are many Santa Ana residents who have been renting out a room or two via apps like Airbnb who will now get the shaft. There side income is now banned.

Running a short-term rental in Santa Ana now could lead to a fine of up to $5,000, up to 6 months in jail, or both.

America’s Founders understood clearly that private property is the foundation not only of prosperity but of freedom itself. Thus, through the common law, state law, and the Constitution, they protected property rights—the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of property. With the growth of government, however, those rights have been seriously compromised. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has yet to develop a principled, much less comprehensive, theory for remedying those violations, according to the Cato Institute.

Surely the Santa Ana City Council could have crafted a better ordinance that would have allowed for some short term rentals? Santa Ana City Councilman Phil Bacerra brought this up but he was overruled by the rest of the City Council Members.

The main problem with our Santa Ana City Council is that very few of them have any legitimate business experience:

  • Mayor Valerie Amezcua spent most of her life working for the OC Probation Department – a government job.
  • Councilman Benjamin Vazquez is a public school teacher – a government worker.
  • Councilwoman Jessie Lopez does not appear to have real job outside of her part-time job as a City Council Member
  • Councilman Johnathan Hernandez works as a Community Health Worker and Youth Partner for a mental health program. He does not appear to have a college degree.
  • Councilman David Penaloza is a Senior Regulatory Compliance Officer for a local manufacturer.
  • Councilman Phil Bacerra is a self-employed Land Use Consultant
  • Mayor Pro Tem Thai Viet Phan is an attorney

Bacerra is the only City Council Member with any legitimate experience with real estate and development. Of course he was the only one to question the short term rental ban.

Property rights in Santa Ana are quickly eroding. Let this be a warning to anyone that considers buying property in our city.

Here is a letter a Santa Ana resident sent to the City Council as she tried to stop their ill-advised ban on short term rentals:

Hello my name is Moana Bertin-Hugault, I am a mother, a wife, a high school choir teacher, a strong community member and a STR airbnb owner. When we first move into Santa Ana, Riverview west neighborhood with our family we wanted to reinvigorate our neighborhood, we started by renovating our home from from the top to bottom, putting in lots of sweet, love and long hours. We hired local professions whenever we couldn’t do the work our selves and bought building materials from the Home Depot down the street. What we saw next was almost magical. The neighbors next door re-painted their house, then across the street they did the same, then another re-did their yard, then a roof and so on and so on. Two years later the pride of ownership gleamed on our small cul-de-sac. Forward to 4 years later the whole neighborhood has transformed to a safer and more beautiful place for the many families living here. After our renovation we were able to tap into the sweat equity in our home to take out just enough to convert our garage into a JADU (one that we payed hefty permit fees on). Being able to short term rent this ADU has been a dream for our family. Not only has it been a joy to host travels and professionals alike but most importantly building a short term rental on our property has allowed us to provid a strong future for our girls! You see with a ban on STR you are not supporting the community but hurting it and in tum hurting so many small business owners like myself who are supporting our families and communities. As a teacher for the past 16 year, I have wonderful career that I love, however the modest salary means it is often tight to provide for my family. Our STR means things like I will be able to pay for our daughters to attend college or take them on family vacations. We are here to grow and support the community.

I was in utter disbelief at the lack of care and respect shown to your citizens at last nights meeting. We too are citizens and residence of Santa Ana and by voting for the immediate ban you hurt your citizen. We pay taxes, fix up neighborhoods and are community members trying to support our families. By passing ordinance 21 you gave us no action plan, no time frame to switch our business model. So that you could go after 84 “out of town” owners you hurt all the other 1000 STR Santa owners. We moved here because Santa Ana was a city of opportunity that celebrated diversity. I think targeting STR but not targeting fireworks, and houses with 7 cars in front, is a huge disservice to our coumminty. We are here because we love Santa Ana and want it to reach its full potential. I am here to stop this potential ban on STR in Santa Ana because it’s not what’s best for the community. It’s what best for hotels and developers but not for the families of Santa Ana. Please consider permits and tax so that we can regulate and provided STR providers with legal pathway.

As a side note, most airbnb STR rentals will not switch to long term rentals. They will switch to 31 plus stays. Therefore I doubt it will help in any significant way to the housing crisis. It is naive to believe that the housing crisis is caused by STR market, when all the data has shown that we are in a housing crisis nationwide do to infrastructure. Why not let the STR tax help with building more affordable government housing.

I see and understand the frustration of the renters, just 4 years ago I was one of them. Having to save every penny in order to purchase a property. The rental crisis of all Southern California is a huge problem, however villainizing the STR owners as the culprit is unfair and inaccurate. Taking away income from small local business like myself and benefitting Disneyland hotels! I ask you how strongly the hotel lobbyist are pushing for this?

Thank you for your time, Moana Bertin-Hugault



By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

2 thoughts on “Santa Ana property owners get the shaft as short term rentals get banned by the City Council”
  1. Owning property is not a license to flout regulations and the law. Besides these rentals are a net negative for just about everyone. No one cares that some well off people cant get their free equity as easily anymore.

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