City of La Mesa Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Does Not Apply to Short Term Rentals
La Mesa Municipal Code (LMMC) Chapter 6.09 imposes a transient occupancy tax on “hotel” uses. LMMC Section 6.09.020(A) defines the phrase “hotel” as “any structure, or any portion of any structure, which is occupied or intended or designed for occupancy by transients for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes and is held out as such to the public.” LMMC Section 6.09.020(B) defines the phrase “transient” as any person who, among other things, exercises occupancy for 30 days or less (or has rights to the same).
Consequently, in order for payment of TOT to trigger (be required) pursuant to LMMC Chapter 6.09, a structure, dwelling or lodging facility must: (1) be held out to the public (e.g., publicly advertised or identified as a hotel, motel or similar facility) and (2) authorize occupancy for a period of 30 consecutive calendar days or less.
“Short term vacation rental” is a term of art, and is not synonymous with “hotel.” In fact, in many municipal codes, short term vacation rentals are authorized in residential zones (subject to certain restrictions), while hotels are authorized only in commercial or business zones. Generally, therefore, a short term vacation rental would not be held out to the public as a hotel, simply because it is not a hotel.
Finally, “short term vacation rental” is not identified in LMMC Chapter 6.09 as a land use subject to TOT.