A Napa homeowner who was jailed, fined $204,000 and charged in criminal court because he refused to stop running an unpermitted Browns Valley vacation rental, has come to yet another legal bend in the road.
Ashfin Gooya, also known as Goya “Sean” Sheen, has agreed to pay the city $25,000 to settle what he owes the city in penalties, unpaid taxes, late penalties, attorney fees and interest.
In addition, Gooya must sell his house and move out of the home, which is located at located at 3366 Linda Mesa Way in west Napa.
“I don’t think we have had a case that’s gone through this many twists and turns,” said Napa assistant city attorney David Jones. “I consider this to be a substantial victory for the city and that neighborhood.”
Jones said the city agreed to settle the case “so that we could compel the sale of the house, collect money and protect the neighborhood from further disruption.”
The agreement, signed June 22, comes after Gooya filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in September 2017.
If the city and Gooya hadn’t come to a settlement, the city would have been left trying to collect $204,000 from Gooya’s estate, which has no assets.
The Linda Mesa home was heavily mortgaged, explained Jones.
According to bankruptcy court documents, Gooya owed $470,000 to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, $137,997 to a single individual as a second deed of trust, $600,474 to Bank of America and other amounts to entities with secured property claims.
The drama at 3366 Linda Mesa Way began in 2016 when Gooya was known as Goya “Sean” Sheen.
Since at least April 2016, Gooya had advertised the home for rent on sites such as VRBO and Airbnb for as much as $2,550 a night. The home did not have a city vacation rental permit.
Neighbors had complained for months about a steady flow of overnight visitors, noise and traffic at the single-family home.
The city continued to issue citations with fines of $1,090.50 per day for unpermitted lodging and food service activities.
In an affidavit, neighbor Bruce Chinberg said that due to the vacation rental, conditions on the street had become “intolerable.”
At one point, Gooya 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, he installed signs around the property taunting neighbors who he claimed were complaining about his overnight guests.
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In October 2016, Napa County Superior Court Judge Diane Price ordered Sheen to stop operating an unpermitted short-term vacation home. That order came after months of citations from the city’s code enforcement officers.
In February 2017, the home was listed for $898,900, but no sale occurred.
In April 2017 Gooya was sentenced to three years of probation, a $602 fine and credit for three days served in county jail for his behavior.
He also pleaded no contest in criminal court to disobeying a civil court order and two counts of creating a public nuisance.
This settlement specifies that Gooya sell the house within 12 months. The buyer cannot be an “insider” or anyone Gooya has had a relationship with in the past seven years, it said.
In addition, Gooya cannot occupy the house for five years after the sale of the property.
If Gooya had not agreed, the $204,000 judgement would have remained in place. “In the event he were to acquire assets in the future,” the city could go after those assets. However, without this agreement Gooya wouldn’t have been compelled to sell the property and leave the house, said Jones.
This agreement means the city gets money now and Gooya doesn’t have a $204,000 judgment hanging over him.
“It’s important to understand there is a huge difference between having a judgment for $204,000,” and a guaranteed payment of $25,000, said Jones.
“In the real world,” it’s better to get $25,000 now than the right to try and collect $204,000 that Gooya doesn’t have, said Jones.
Jones also noted that the $25,000 payment to the city is more than the $21,630 in transient occupancy tax that Gooya owed the city.
This is a definitive step in the history of the house on Linda Mesa Way, said Jones.
“It’s very close to the end of the road,” he said.
Once the house is sold and the city paid $25,000, “the litigation will be over.”
Gooya and his bankruptcy attorney could not be immediately reached to comment on this story.