Previously Convicted Illegal Vacation Rental Business Operator in Santa Monica Receives Increased Sentence

Code Enforcement’s proactive probation and diversion monitoring achieves just results

December 18, 2018

Previously Convicted Illegal Vacation Rental Business Operator in Santa Monica Receives Increased Sentence

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office successfully sought and obtained an enhanced sentence for Shabi Jafri, a local real estate agent who was convicted of operating an illegal vacation rental business in June 2018 and subsequently violated his diversion terms. Santa Monica Code Enforcement Officers actively monitor each probationer to ensure compliance with probation and diversion conditions. Officers promptly sought action upon learning of violations by Mr. Jafri. 

“The City of Santa Monica has consistently dedicated policies to producing, protecting and preserving housing in our community,” said Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen.  “While City prosecutors use innovative tools, such as diversion and probation programs, to achieve justice with opportunity for rehabilitation; we and our law enforcement partners actively monitor compliance, and promptly take action to ensure rigorous compliance with diversion/probation terms in order to fully effectuate the legislative objectives that we are charged to enforce”. 

In June 2018, Mr. Jafri was convicted of unlawfully taking nine residential housing units off of the rental housing market and operating them as illegal vacation rentals, and of his refusal to comply with City Administrative Citations.  Upon his conviction, he was placed on formal diversion, which gave him an opportunity to earn a possible future dismissal of the case by demonstrating contrition and compliance. 

However, Code Enforcement Officers, through their proactive probation and diversion monitoring program soon discovered that Mr. Jafri was continuing to engage in the same unlawful activities. 

On December 12, 2018, City Prosecutor Michael Cobden sought and obtained an enhanced sentence against Mr. Jafri in Los Angeles Superior Court.  Judge TK Herman ordered Mr. Jafri to:

  1. Perform 112 hours of community labor.
  2. Perform 140 hours of community service.
  3. Pay restitution to the City of Santa Monica in the amount of $3,915 in investigation costs.
  4. Comply with all laws, including the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance’s prohibition against hosting, facilitating, aiding, or advertising a vacation rental in the City.

“We agree with and appreciate the Court’s sentencing order” said Code Enforcement Manager Sharon Guidry.  “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.  My team of dedicated Code Enforcement Officers are committed to enforcing this important legislation, through the entire life-cycle of every case.  We proactively monitor diversion and probation terms to ensure scrupulous compliance with the City’s laws and to guarantee that Santa Monica remains a place that people from all income levels and backgrounds can proudly call home.”

Home-Sharing in Santa Monica

After maintaining a multi-decade prohibition against short-term rentals in residential districts, in 2015, the City eased this prohibition by authorizing a form of short-term rentals known as Home-Sharing, wherein a resident is free to host visitors for compensation for a period of less than 31 days, as long as the resident and visitor are both present in the home. Un-hosted short-term rentals of residential housing, known as Vacation Rentals, remain unlawful in Santa Monica. This landmark legislation struck an important balance by enabling current and prospective residents to supplement income through home-sharing to meet increased rents and housing prices, while ensuring that Santa Monica’s housing units, and particularly affordable units, would not be surreptitiously or openly converted into de facto hotels.

For more information on the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance or to apply for a Home-Sharing License, visitwww.smgov.net/homeshare.

To report an illegal vacation rental business, contact Code Enforcement at (310) 458-4984.

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