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Rosenblatt v. City of Santa Monica

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 30, 2017

ARLENE ROSENBLATT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SANTA MONICA and THE CITY COUNCIL OF SANTA MONICA, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS [56], GRANTING MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT [55], AND DENYING REQUEST TO STRIKE [64]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On December 1, 2016, the Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, dismissing all of Plaintiff's causes of action but allowing Plaintiff leave to amend. (ECF No. 51.) On January 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 52.) Defendants' response to the FAC was due on January 24, 2017; when they did not respond by that date, Plaintiff requested entry of default. (ECF No. 53.) Three days later, Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default and a motion to dismiss the FAC. (ECF Nos. 55, 56.) On February 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the motion to dismiss, and on February 24, 2017, Defendants filed their Reply. (ECF Nos. 62; 63.) Asserting that the Reply was filed late, Plaintiffs filed a request to strike it as untimely. (ECF No. 64.) All three pending matters are fully briefed and ready for decision.[1]

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's FAC alleges the same basics facts as her original Complaint, with a few additions. The case is about the City of Santa Monica's 2015 adoption of an ordinance banning “vacation rentals” of residential property (leasing an entire property on a short-term basis) but allowing “home sharing” (renting a private room within a host's home, with the host present in other portions of the home during the stay) (“the Ordinance”). (FAC ¶¶ 15(a)-(b).) Santa Monica is a popular tourist destination, and Plaintiff wishes to rent her home as a vacation rental to generate income. (See Id . ¶¶ 55-56.) Since Defendants passed the Ordinance, she has not been able to do so. (Id. ¶ 56.)

         Plaintiff alleges that short-term vacation rentals in Santa Monica are critical to interstate commerce, citing reports that Santa Monica is one of the most popular destinations in the area, and without the availability of vacation rentals, hotel room costs are prohibitively expensive for many out-of-state visitors. (Id. ¶¶ 24-27.) Plaintiff believes that the ability of vacation rentals to compete with the local hotel industry motivated Defendants' adoption of the Ordinance. (See Id . ¶ 36.) She alleges that the Ordinance's ban on vacation rentals and on advertising vacation rentals violates the United States Constitution.

         Plaintiff asserts causes of action for violation of the dormant Commerce Clause, declaratory relief regarding the alleged constitutional violations, and deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which were also alleged in her original complaint, and one new cause of action: violation of the California Coastal Act. (See Compl., ECF No. 3; FAC.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A court may dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for lack of a cognizable legal theory or insufficient facts pleaded to support an otherwise cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need only satisfy the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)-a short and plain statement of the claim. Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). The factual “allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, the complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         The determination of whether a complaint satisfies the plausibility standard is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. A court is generally limited to the pleadings and must construe all “factual allegations set forth in the complaint . . . as true and . . . in the light most favorable” to the plaintiff. Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). But a court need not blindly accept conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, and unreasonable inferences. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         As a general rule, a court should freely give leave to amend a complaint that has been dismissed, even if not requested by the plaintiff. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). However, a court may deny leave to amend when it “determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency.” Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986).

         III. MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT AND MOTION TO STRIKE

         As a preliminary matter, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to set aside default (ECF No. 55) and DENIES Plaintiff's request to strike (ECF No. 64). Its reasoning for granting the motion to set aside the default is simply that Plaintiff does not oppose it, and good cause appears for doing so. (ECF No. 61.) As for the denial of Defendants' request to strike Plaintiffs' Reply, the Court determines that the parties did not have an agreement regarding the briefing schedule, and Defendants' Reply was not otherwise late. Per the clerk of court's response, when parties stipulate to continue a hearing date, they are free to adopt the new date as the marker for the briefing schedule. (See Esensten Decl., Ex. 2, ECF No. 64-1.) Further, the correspondence that Plaintiff produces does not establish that the parties agreed to use the original hearing date as a marker for the briefing schedule; all it shows is that Plaintiff's counsel believed that the briefing deadline would be based on the original hearing date, and the parties agreed to leave any mention of a briefing deadline out of the stipulation. (Id.) As such, Defendants' Reply brief was not untimely.

         IV. MOTION TO ...


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