• An Open Letter Submitted by Lynley Kerr Hogan (AKA Lavender Lady of Los Gatos)

    January 31, 2012

    To the Town of Los Gatos Council and Planning Department:

    I am writing to express deep regret for having applied to change the R1D Code. This cost me $2000; and, in a private meeting with Council Members and Planners, I was told that no one would support allowing my rental to exist as it has for 20 months. Unfortunately, I was given bad advice by the Planning Department when told that changing the Code was the only way to keep my home as a vacation rental. The truth is that it would have been better to be secretive like the others and just do it than advertise and market my short-term vacation rental, as I obviously did, with no intention of deceit. I never wanted to change the Code. I only want the opportunity to provide for my family by means of a legal small female-owned business, which will allow me to earn back my high credit rating and continue on with my life independently. Isn’t that what it should be all about? Independence? Opportunity? It seems trying to do the right thing by seeking a CUP was the wrong thing to do as it made things worse for my girls and me. Isn’t it ironic how my honest efforts are punished, while all the many other people who currently have short-term rentals in Los Gatos aren’t being bothered? Simply, the Town can’t stop all the lesser-known short-term rentals, but they intend to stop the well-known Lavender Lady of Los Gatos.

    I am contesting the Cease Order for the following reasons:

    I have been denied the right to continue to rent my own residence beyond January 31, 2012, because The Lavender Lady of Los Gatos is a short-term vacation rental, which the Town says is not allowed.
    1. The Town is clearly discriminating against me by forcing me to stop a harmless and beneficial business opportunity to use my home as a short-term vacation rental, while the Town allows others, throughout the town, to rent or trade, short or long term, their sofa, bedroom, or home. You may search the Internet for the abundance of examples. I have printouts of the pages of examples.
    2. The Town cannot clearly show me where in the Code it states I may not rent my own residence as a short-term vacation rental.
    a. My home is an owner-occupied dwelling where under the lease provisions the tenant does not have the exclusive use of the kitchen, and
    b. The tenant does have use of the entire floor for a short period of time and independently.
    3. The Lavender Lady of Los Gatos can only be defined as a short-term vacation rental.
    a. The Town uses Wikipedia to define “bed & breakfast”, which, (along with “short-term rental” and “vacation rental”) is not in the Code. I will use Wikipedia and National Assoc. of Realtors (N.A.R.) to define “vacation rental” and N.A.R. to define “short term rental”.
    b. Wikipedia - “vacation rental”:“The renting out of a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists as an alternative to a hotel. …The property is a fully furnished property, … in the world’s most desirable locations, …”
    c. N.A.R. – “short-term rental” & “vacation rental”: “The term short-term rental housing typically means a dwelling unit that is rented for a period of less than thirty consecutive days. In general, short term rental housing differs from bed & breakfasts, hotels, motels, and other lodging uses by providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation. …In some communities, short-term rental housing may be referred to as vacation rentals.”
    4. The Code is silent regarding short and long term renting (with the exception of mobile homes) as a permitted use (with or without a CUP) in any Zone; so, all existing short and long term rentals in the Town of Los Gatos are in violation of the Code or silently assumed to be allowed. Since there are many short and long term rentals silently allowed throughout the Town, my rental must be allowed and without a CUP.
    5. This Cease Order is an outrageous example of “Taking” by government, which requires compensation from the Town of Los Gatos. Another example of “taking”, that the Town of Los Gatos gave me, concerned a woman who lost her husband and, in 2004, needed to rent her home to pay her expenses. The Town said, “No,” and the woman suffered loss of her home.
    6. The Town knew I had paid reservations into April, and yet, decided that it was best that I break my contracts. It is well known that courts always try to uphold the sanctity of contracts and would not allow this.
    7. The Town violated the 2003 Brown Act when it failed to notify the public of the meeting I had to attend in Council Chambers on December 14, 2011. During this meeting, I was told by several Planners and Council members that they would vote against my right to keep my home as a vacation rental.


    The current Code does not apply to any rental, including my rental. Therefore, with this endeavor, I have the opportunity to earn income to provide for my children and myself. I have the support of many people around the world, in Los Gatos and in my neighborhood, as you can see by my online petition and paper petition. No one wants the Town of Los Gatos residents, their friends and family, or tourists, to unnecessarily suffer by losing a very special place to call home while staying in Silicon Valley. Show some compassion. Allow me to keep my short-term vacation rental, like others are keeping theirs, and allow me to help Los Gatos accommodate those groups of people requiring a home instead of a room or bed. Do the right thing: Return my $2000 to me and let The Lavender Lady of Los Gatos be.

    Sincerely, Lynley Kerr Hogan

    THE BROWN ACT 2003

    CAL. GOV. CODE § 54950 : California Code - Section 54950
    Search CAL. GOV. CODE § 54950 : California Code - Section 54950
    Search by Keyword or Citation
    In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public
    commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State
    exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of
    the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be
    conducted openly.

    The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies
    which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their
    public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and
    what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed
    so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.





    The Lavender Lady of Los Gatos
    Credit: Lynley Kerr Hogan



    If you would like to submit an article, opinion, or open letter, please contact me: kir@insidelg.com


    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Larry Arzie's Avatar
      Larry Arzie -
      Your right, sometimes it is best to just do it and ask forgiveness latter if someone complains, then you beg for mercy. There are hundreds of nonconforming uses going on in Los Gatos that would never be approved.
      The massage parlour downtown has a sandwich board sign on the sidwalk. Merchants put out goods for sale on the sidewalk without a permit. Planned developments fence in open spaces. No one asks for permits and only get in trouble when they infringe on their neighbors. Like extra parking on the street from an illegal rental. If that's not the case for you then I sympathise with your plight. We have a high paid beuracracy and they need to get paid. Thanks for helping to support them.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I am very empathetic to the Lavender Lady's situation.

      I went to the online record for the Planning Commission. They were likely influenced by the negative neighbors' letters that are of record. One of the letters describes in detail the negative effect her business has on the neighborhood.

      What is missing, is any evidence, recommendations, endorsements, etc. that are for the Lavendar Lady. Now that it's been brought to the town's attention, with negative support, it's would be difficult for the commission members to turn a deaf ear.

      However, having read her personal situation, I would endorse returning the CUP permit fee to her.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      which council and planning commission members were in attendance at this meeting?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      i would think it is fair to return the $2000. the rest of the points in this letter are less convincing.

      firstly, the neighbors were aware of the use of the property as a short-term rental and would have brought the issue to a head sooner or later, so i'm not sure i concur with the owner that she could have continued her sub-rosa activities indefinitely, as she alludes to in her preamble.

      points (1) and (4) presume that the town's reactive methods for enforcing codes imply some sort of discrimination. this i find flimsy reasoning. to support this claim, you would have to demonstrate specific instances of violations that the town has considered, deemed in violation, yet simply refused to prosecute.

      points (2) and (3) may have some merit, but the town controls the goalposts here. they can resolve any ambiguity in their favor presuming they are not breaking any county/state/federal laws by doing so (doubt it).

      points (5) and (6) seem completely without merit. why would the town be responsible to compensate the owner? moreso considering the owner admits to knowing her actions were in violation...but even if not, ignorance is no excuse.

      moral of the story....it would seem advisable for anyone starting such an enterprise to check with a lawyer first, save the heartache. i hope the owner can find another way to support her family.
    1. Mary Pope-Handy's Avatar
      Mary Pope-Handy -
      I have never understood why the town does not permit B & Bs. So many lovely Victorian houses in the downtown area would be lovely settings for that kind of getaway.

      The irony is that 100 years ago or so, in the early 1900s, Los Gatans would take in not just visitors to their homes but the infirm! People came from all over to convalesce in the climate of Los Gatos, considered one of the most healthful in the world. (Many of the sick didn't make it, of course - they died from TB or whatever they had when they arrived. Hence the need for two mortuaries in a very small town at that time!) Essentially, Los Gatans had B & Bs for sick people.

      I'd like to see the town get back to its roots and be a little more true to history and have home owners open their doors on a short term basis to others. Just one change.... This time, we should leave the physical healing out of the equation.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mary Pope-Handy View Post
      I have never understood why the town does not permit B & Bs. So many lovely Victorian houses in the downtown area would be lovely settings for that kind of getaway.

      The irony is that 100 years ago or so, in the early 1900s, Los Gatans would take in not just visitors to their homes but the infirm! People came from all over to convalesce in the climate of Los Gatos, considered one of the most healthful in the world. (Many of the sick didn't make it, of course - they died from TB or whatever they had when they arrived. Hence the need for two mortuaries in a very small town at that time!) Essentially, Los Gatans had B & Bs for sick people.

      I'd like to see the town get back to its roots and be a little more true to history and have home owners open their doors on a short term basis to others. Just one change.... This time, we should leave the physical healing out of the equation.
      the year is 2012, not 1900. i want municipal rules for 2012. lest ye be too nostalgic for a past you never knew, in 1900, women were eleven years away from the right to vote in california. the good old days weren't always
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