Study Proves Huge Economic Impact of STRs on Local Economy

Short term rentals (STR) are an increasingly popular lodging choice for travelers in almost all communities in the United States. With the growth of online reservation systems such as HomeAway and AirBnB, visitors are better able to select the accommodation style that fits their needs. Communities are increasingly focused on how best to appropriately incorporate STR properties into their existing regulatory and fiscal framework. This impact analysis is meant to inform the discussion of STR regulations in the Santa Barbara area.

Tourism has been a significant part of the Santa Barbara county economy for decades. With thousands of visitors drawn to the area’s scenic beauty, calm atmosphere, and award-wining wineries and restaurants, the region benefits from a wide variety of lodging options. STRs have become an important part of the lodging market for the Santa Barbara area, with beach homes that boast great weather and spectacular coastal scenery and vineyard retreats that provide access to one of California’s finest wine regions.

For the purpose of this study, STRs are defined as residential properties that are available to be rented for a period of less than 30 days. Any properties self-identifying as a short term or vacation rentals, as well as properties listed on major short term and vacation rental websites, were included. These properties tend to be rented out for leisure travel and for less than a month at a time. This report will refer to two areas of analysis – the City of Santa Barbara and the rest of Santa Barbara County (which includes the County’s other municipalities as well as unincorporated areas of the County) – which can be summed to provide a total County-level figure.

The report that follows provides an overview of tourism trends in the Santa Barbara area, specific characteristics of the local STR market, and a discussion of the methodology, findings, and conclusions of the economic impact analysis.

Click below to view and/or save the full report in PDF format.

Economic Impact Report of STRs in Santa Barbara PDF | 1.6MB

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