by Keith Hamm, Santa Barbara Independent

Throughout Santa Barbara County in 2014, short-term vacation rentals accounted for more than $470 million in economic activity and nearly 5,000 jobs, according to a report produced by consulting firm TXP, Inc. and contracted by HomeAway, an online vacation-rental marketplace. Late last year, the county’s Planning Commission voted to update its zoning code to ban vacation rentals in unincorporated residential neighborhoods but remained open to the concept on ranches and farms. The commission meets again on the matter at 9 a.m. on 2/24.

See the full article at

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

By Alys Martinez, KEYT – KCOY – KKFX Reporter

The owner of a Santa Barbara vacation rental company is speaking out after the city served her with a subpoena.

Melissa Pierson is one of four vacation rental company owners ordered to hand over transaction records to the city as it begins a crackdown on short-term vacation rentals.

Pierson said her company, Coastal Hideaways has nothing to hide and has always followed the rules during her 20 years in business.

“The guests that come to Santa Barbara have to pay a TOT. We collect that tax every month and send that to the city,” Pierson said.

On top of the 12% tax, Pierson said her clients pay the city an additional two dollars per day.

“That goes towards marketing Santa Barbara and promoting tourists into the area which is what the city wants.”

By eliminating short term rentals, Pierson said the city is shooting itself in the foot.

“It’s millions of dollars that the city will lose if they don’t allow vacation rentals on a short term basis.”

See the full article at

By Alys Martinez, KEYT – KCOY – KKFX Reporter

A Santa Barbara widow is at the center of the city’s vacation rental controversy.

Dorothy Wallstein rents out her home, while living on the property, to make ends meet. It’s commonly referred to as ‘home sharing’.

“I need supplemental income because I’m a widow on disability and a fixed income. So it was a perfect solution,” Wallstein said.

The city is cracking down on what it calls illegal vacation rentals.

The problem is Wallstein lives in R4, an area where vacation rentals are allowed.

She moved into her home in May 2014 and started renting a month later.

“I went into the city before I even listed my property and asked them what I needed to do” Wallstein said. “I got the business license. I’ve paid my TOT since day one. I’ve never missed a payment.”

Recently, she received a ‘cease and desist’ letter in the mail.

See the full article at

By Alex Burness, Daily Camera Staff Writer

With more than 20,000 ballots counted as of 1:23 a.m. Wednesday, 57 percent of Boulder voters supported a 7.5-percent tax on short-term rentals such as AirBnB and VRBO — one of three taxes approved this election — and denied a $10,000 pay raise for City Council members.

The passage of the tax sets into action an ordinance, passed 8-1 by the council in September, that allows Boulder homeowners to rent out their rooms to tourists as often as they’d like, and accessory units — converted garages, for example — for up to 120 days a year.

See the full article at

In the October 2015 issue of The Mesa Paper, candidates running for Santa Barbara City Council declared their positions on short term vacation rentals. See the PDF below for more information.

City Council Candidates STRs PDF | 1MB

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press, October 26, 2015

By Catherine Chen, News-Press Correspondent

Carpinteria property owners who hope to rent out their homes for weekend visitors in the near future may find themselves on a wait list.

The City Council tonight will discuss a proposed 45-day moratorium on short-term rentals in response to complaints from residents and to allow staff to work on new regulations.

Under the moratorium, no new permits will be given for short-term rentals in Carpinteria until at least mid-December.

In August, the City Council unanimously approved more stringent regulations for existing locations while options are considered to limit where short-term rentals can be located in the future.

That includes prohibiting rentals in single-family residential zones.

The city estimates more than 200 units fall under existing licenses, and about 50 are unlicensed, some in zones where such use is prohibited.

This year the city has licensed 15 vacation rentals.

City manager Dave Durflinger said the temporary ban will give staff the time needed to develop a tighter ordinance.

“The purpose is to let us process the new ordinance without any conflict,” he said, noting the council can adopt the new ordinance during the 45-day ban and supersede the moratorium, or, if staff is still working on it, the council can extend the moratorium.

The council can also let the moratorium expire without a new ordinance, he said.

“But we are expecting to complete the new ordinance by the end of the year.”

Short-term rentals are residential units rented for 30 consecutive days or less, including vacation rentals, according to the city. They can be subject to city or county land-use regulations, permit requirements, fees and taxes.

Theo Kracke, owner of Paradise Retreats in Santa Barbara, said he understands the city’s concerns but believes there is a need to educate the public regarding the issue.

“We hear common themes that rentals disrupt neighborhoods, degrade residential qualities, and causes affordable housing reductions,” Mr. Kracke said. “Some of these concerns are valid, but it’s not as big a problem as they think it is.”

Many of these problems are caused by poor rental management, he said.

“It happens when the owners are bad or they don’t care. It’s a real problem and people shouldn’t have to deal with it. But the solution has to be fair…Having a firm permitting process where permits can be revoked can help solve the problem.”

The city council will discuss the moratorium during its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.


Short term rentals, long term consequences

Few issues have elicited such polarizing responses in Santa Barbara as that of short-term housing. Defined as rentals under 30 days, short-term rentals have become a more affordable, and often roomier alternative to traditional hotels. Companies like AirBNB and V.R.B.O, which facilitate these rentals, are now commonly used when vacationers plan their next trip.

As the trend grew, more and more short term rentals opened up in areas of the city that are not zoned for such use. Until now, city officials turned a blind eye. The city even collects a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from registered properties.

Click here for the full article by Kathryn Barnes and accompanying radio interview with KCRW’s Jonathan Bastian.

The Tiburon Town Council this week reversed a controversial decision to ban short-term rentals after an outpouring of objections from residents.

“I think we owe it to everybody to just pause,” said Councilman Jim Fraser, who previously voted to ban short-term rentals. “We need more dialogue. We need to make sure whatever decision we make is the best decision for the community.”

Click here for the full content of this article, by Adrian Rodriguez of the Marin Independent Journal.

A new short-term vacation rental ordinance will go into effect in the city of Goleta next month.

The Goleta City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to pursue an ordinance that creates a registration program requiring vacation-rental property owners to apply for and obtain a regulatory license before they rent to anyone for fewer than 30 days.

Click here for the full article by Gina Potthoff at

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