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Illegal Vacation Rental

An unpermitted vacation rental at 3366 Linda Mesa Way in Browns Valley as seen in October.

The Napa County District Attorney’s Office has filed criminal charges against a Napa man who continues to rent his Browns Valley home to overnight guests, despite being ordered by a judge to stop.

Goya (Sean) Sheen has been charged with 12 misdemeanor counts including failure to pay transient occupancy tax, failure to register a hotel/vacation rental, disobeying a court order and creating a public nuisance.

Each one of the 12 counts carries a maximum six-month jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

In October, Napa County Superior Court Judge Diane Price ordered Sheen to stop operating an unpermitted short-term vacation home at 3366 Linda Mesa Way. That order came after months of citations from the city’s code enforcement officers.

Since at least April, Sheen has advertised the home for rent on sites like VRBO and Airbnb for as much as $2,550 a night. The home does not have a city vacation rental permit.

Sheen appeared Tuesday morning at the Napa County Criminal Courthouse for an arraignment hearing on the new criminal charges.

Napa County Deputy District Attorney Bridget Stewart told Judicial Officer Monique Langhorne that Sheen continues to violate the court’s order.

Sheen seems to think that because he only asks his visitors for a suggested “donation” for a nonprofit that he says he created, that he should be allowed to host overnight guests, said Stewart. However, it’s still a violation to advertise or allow overnight guests at an unpermitted vacation rental, she said.

“He’s just not getting the message,” Stewart told Langhorne. “He doesn’t understand that he has to stop this behavior. We can’t allow this to continue.”

“It’s reached a point where if he’s unwilling to abide, he should be in custody,” said Stewart.

Sheen appeared in court representing himself.

“I’ve been trying to resolve this,” Sheen told Langhorne. “What is it that you need from me?”

Langhorne ordered Sheen to get a public defender to represent him. She reminded Sheen that he faces jail and fines.

“I’m not worried about that,” said Sheen.

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After the court hearing, Stewart said it is uncommon for such a case “to rise to the level of criminal charges.”

In the elevator leaving the courthouse, Sheen said he wasn’t worried about the case.

“I’m not doing anything illegal,” he said.

Neighbors have complained for months about a steady flow of overnight visitors, noise and traffic at the single- family home.

The city continues to issue citations with fines of $1,090.50 per day for un-permitted lodging and food service activities. As of early December, the fines totaled more than $100,000. Property records as of Nov. 15 list Sheen as the owner of the home.

In an affidavit, neighbor Bruce Chinberg said that due to the vacation rental, conditions on the street “have become intolerable.”

At one point, Sheen reportedly let multiple rabbits loose in the neighborhood. He also placed a cage with live chickens on top of his car and parked it on the street by the home. Later, Sheen installed signs around the property taunting neighbors who he claimed were complaining about his overnight guests.

According to the neighbors, some overnight guests have become belligerent to neighbors who questioned their use of the rental.

The disruption “is ruining our neighborhood,” Chinberg said.

“Guests at the property speed dangerously on our quiet street,” neighbor Elizabeth Silva said in an affidavit.

“Please put a stop to this madness,” wrote another neighbor.

Advertised on Airbnb as a “million dollar home in one of the best” neighborhoods, the house offers 15 beds, a studio, five “super large and fancy tents/gazebos outside with real queens and king beds,” including a TV/fridge/heat/ceiling fan in each one. A pool, spa and outdoor showers and outdoor sauna/massage table were also advertised.

A guest who stayed at the home in October left a comment about the house on Airbnb.

“Me and my [girlfriends] stayed here for my birthday!!! We had an absolutely amazing time!!!! The house was so clean and even stocked with food for us!!!!! Sean was just lovely!!! We couldn’t have picked a better house!!!!”

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