This editorial originally appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press in October 2016.

We expect our government officials to make balanced decisions in the best public interest, based on actual evidence, not opinions or guesses. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening in the County and City of Santa Barbara in the case of Short Term Rentals (STRs).

Since last year, STRs have been targeted as a significant cause of both our shortage of affordable housing, and the degradation of the quality of our residential neighborhoods.

Let me start with some actual facts.

(NOTE: all of these facts can be confirmed by reading the reports located at

Short Term Rentals represent about 1.7% of the entire housing market in Santa Barbara City and County (there are approximately 2,550 STRs out of 147,368 total housing units).1

STRs are a major source of revenue for the City and County of Santa Barbara, generating about $470 million in overall economic activity, and creating about 5,000 jobs.2

Last year, the City and County collected approximately $2.6 million in STR Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) with only a fraction of STRs paying TOT. With fair regulations that require full enrollment by all STRs, the TOT revenues would triple to about $3.6 million per year to the City of Santa Barbara, and quadruple to about $5.6 million per year to the County of Santa Barbara; a total of $9.2 million per year.

STRs provide property owners with a way to generate income to help support the affordability of their home, while also having the ability to enjoy the home throughout the year.

STRs provide important local short-term housing such as temporary housing for workers, professors, families relocating for employment, executive housing, insurance claim temporary housing, housing needed during remodels, and families who come to town for medical procedures.

STRs provide affordable & authentic accommodations for families who cannot afford multiple hotel rooms.

In spite of these benefits, the SB County Planning Commissioners recently recommended that short term rentals be banned in most of the County. This recommendation, when combined with the current enforcement actions approved by the City of Santa Barbara, will devastate this sector of our economy, and will cost many people their jobs.

The decisions to prohibit STRs in residential areas have been based on two allegations which have never been supported by data or formal studies: 1) Housing advocates have alleged that STRs are a significant cause of the shortage of affordable housing. 2) Some neighbors have alleged that STRs are creating excessive nuisances, and that STRs have destroyed the “character” of residential neighborhoods.

These allegations might seem intuitive, until you remember that STRs represent only 1.7% of the total housing stock in Santa Barbara City & County. Because STRs represent such a low percentage of our residential housing, it is physically impossible for such a small percentage of homes to create such a large percentage of problems (however it is not impossible for a small percentage of vocal opponents to create the impression that these problems are enormous).

To add facts to a conversation where opinions and guesses have led the discussion, a respected local consulting firm recently conducted two academic analyses of those allegations:

The first report, The Effect of Short Term Rentals on the Supply of Housing in Santa Barbara City & County, concludes that STRs affect about 1/10th of 1% of the long-term rental housing supply, and are not a significant cause of the shortage of affordable housing. Why? First, the quantity of STRs as a percentage of total housing is very low (about 1.7%). Second, 85% of STRs are used throughout the year by the owner, so they would never be available as long-term rentals. Finally, the median STR home value in Santa Barbara is over $2m, and about 50% of STRs would rent for over $5,000 per month as a long-term rental. These costs disqualify most STRs as housing that could ever be considered “affordable”.1

The second report, The Effect of Short Term Rentals on Neighborhood Nuisance Complaints Along the Central Coast concludes that nuisance report rates for STRs are slightly less (to substantially less depending on the City) than nuisance report rates for all residential properties. Readily available data was collected from San Luis Obispo to Thousand Oaks, and the conclusions of this report are logical and irrefutable.3

The win-win solution is not to prohibit short-term rentals, but rather to regulate them (as both Goleta and Ventura have done).

Save The Rentals Santa Barbara ( is a group of over 850 supporters committed to the idea that well-managed and well-regulated STRs can be a benefit to our community. We have created an outline that presents the overriding principles that will allow STRs to co-exist within current bylaws and zoning. Please take a minute to understand that there is a balanced solution to this issue by reading our proposal titled A Plan for Fair Regulation of STRs in Santa Barbara.4

As partners who share a passion for the benefits of short term rentals (and who also understand the concerns of neighborhood compatibility & housing supply), we look forward to working with the County & City of Santa Barbara to create a regulatory framework that works in the public interest, and gives certainty to this important part of our local economy.

(Theo Kracke is the leader of Save The Rentals Santa Barbara, an advocacy group promoting the Fair Regulation of Short Term Rentals in Santa Barbara City & County)


1. The Effect of Short Term Rentals on the Supply of Housing in Santa Barbara City & County (

2. The Local Economic Impact of Short Term Rentals in Santa Barbara, CA (

3. The Effect of Short Term Rentals on Neighborhood Nuisance Complaints Along the Central Coast (

4. A Plan for Fair Regulation of STRs in Santa Barbara (

By Keith Hamm, Santa Barbara Independent

Continuing its counterattack against Santa Barbara’s opposition to short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods, advocacy group Save the Rentals has released a pair of reports claiming that the impact of short-term rentals on long-term housing and neighborhood tranquility has been overstated.

See the full article at

See also here on Save the Rentals:

Recently Published Studies Prove Negative Effects of Short Term Rentals are Overstated

The Effect of Short Term Rentals on Neighborhood Nuisance Complaints Along the Central Coast

This report presents data-supported analysis and conclusions regarding the incidence of nuisance complaints for Short-Term Rentals (STRs) in cities and unincorporated areas along the Central Coast. This study addresses the specific question: Do short-term rentals cause an increase in nuisance complaints in Central Coast cities?

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

STR Effect on Neighborhoods Study PDF | 967 kb | Published June 28, 2016

The Effect of Short Term Rentals on The Supply of Housing in Santa Barbara City and County

This report presents data-supported analysis and conclusions regarding the impact of Short-Term Rentals (STRs) on the supply of long-term housing in Santa Barbara City and County.

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

STR Effect on Housing Study PDF | 700 kb | Published May 12, 2016

By Kiley Smith, Huffington Post

A new study measuring the impact of short-term home rentals in Santa Barbara County, one of California’s top tourism destinations, shows that the industry generates close to $500 million a year locally and creates 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The comforts of home on your next Santa Barbara vacation may soon be disappearing. In the summer of 2015, the Santa Barbara city council voted to ban short term vacation rentals, citing potential noise complaints and a shrinking open rental market.

Though heavily opposed by the public, these new ordinances – which go into effect in Q1 2017 – will force a booming industry to almost completely shutter its doors, sacrificing jobs, significant revenue loss, and potentially causing a plummet in real estate home values in the area.

See the full article at

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

Support Our Cause

We have several expensive projects underway which need funding.

If PayPal system does not work, or if you would prefer to pay by Check, please send your donation to the following address:

STR Santa Barbara
16 E. Arrellaga St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Sign Our Petition & Join Us

Join these organizations and individuals in supporting our mission!


as of 10/11/17

View Supporters & Comments »

Reach Our Decision Makers

Let the Santa Barbara City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors know that you are in favor of well-regulated short term rentals!

Click here for Contact Info

Promote Our Cause

Promote our cause and show your support for short term rentals with an 18" x 24" Yard Sign, 5.5" x 3" window sticker or 11" x 3" bumper sticker!

Contact Us to Get Yours

Copyright © 2019, Save the Rentals Santa Barbara. Photographs are courtesy and copyright Scott Gibson Photography and may not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without permission.