July 14, 2018
Property rights are under attack in cities all across the country, so the Goldwater Institute is taking our fight for freedom from sea to shining sea.
Many cities are cracking down on an essential property right: the right of homeowners to share their homes as short-term rentals, a practice known as home-sharing. Now, with the assistance of the Goldwater Institute, some home-sharers are fighting back. We’ve filed lawsuits in Miami Beach, Seattle, and Pacific Grove, California, to defend property owners’ right to share their home.
The city of Miami Beach has been suppressing homeowners’ property rights by imposing the country’s steepest penalties for home-sharing—the very practice that makes a vacation in sunny South Florida possible for many travelers from around the world. Miami Beach imposes fines of up to $100,000 per violation on home-sharers who rent outside of a narrow zone where rentals are allowed. The Florida Constitution protects people from excessive fines that are “grossly disproportional” to the person’s action—but it’s hard to see how a $100,000 fine for one home-sharing violation is anything but excessive.
While Seattle is known as a technology hub, the city isn’t such a haven for innovation when it comes to private property rights. Even though home-sharing has been commonplace and thriving in Seattle, the city voted late last year to restrict short-term rentals. Seattle’s new regulations, which go into effect in January 2019, make it difficult for someone to operate a home-sharing business, harming local entrepreneurs who have been operating in the city for years without incident.
And coastal Pacific Grove, California, decided to literally raffle off the property rights of its residents via a lottery. Winners—only 15 percent of Pacific Grove properties per zone—get to keep conducting short-term rentals. But dozens of other homeowners—like Sue and Bill Hobbs—suddenly and unfairly lost the right to rent their homes to generate income that helps them and their families. Sue told her story in a recent op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Home-sharing is a longstanding American tradition, allowing travelers to visit new locations, enabling homeowners to earn extra money to make home improvements and mortgage payments, and boosting local economies through tourism dollars. As Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur wrote in a recent In Defense of Liberty blog post, “Rather than treating responsible homeowners like criminals, cities should embrace the opportunities the sharing economy provides property owners, visitors, and local businesses, and give homeowners a shot at living the American Dream.”
Click here to learn more about the Goldwater Institute’s fight to defend home-sharing from coast to coast.
Liberty in the News
Alaska becomes the 41st Right to Try state
The end of the week brought good news from the northernmost state: This Friday, Alaska became the 41st state to enact Right to Try legislation. Alaska’s signing reminds us that the federal Right to Try law signed in May wouldn’t have been possible without a push from the states—and that Right to Try is popular across party lines. Read the press release.
A free speech touchdown
A kicker for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights and amateur filmmaker, Donald De La Haye enjoyed connecting with friends and followers on social media—but his passion for posting videos to YouTube cost him both his spot on the football team and the scholarship on which he relied to attend college. The Goldwater Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation went to court to defend Donald’s free speech rights, and this week, the court denied UCF’s motion to dismiss Donald’s lawsuit, allowing his case to proceed. Read the full story.
Meet a Goldwater expert: Naomi Lopez
A career in public policy always seemed like a natural fit for Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez. She loves taking on challenging problems—and to her, healthcare is the most challenging policy area of all. Learn more about Naomi and her work.