Coastal Commission Denies Short-Term Rental Ban

By Tim Buckley   |   May 31, 2018

At a hearing earlier this month, the California Coastal Commission denied the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’s ordinance amendments pertaining to the prohibition of Short-Term Rentals (STRs). The ban on STRs was approved by the Board of Supervisors in October of last year, after more than two years of multiple hearings as well as community controversy over the issue. 

The STR ban passed at the County level included the prohibition of STRs in residential zones, agricultural zones, and mixed-use zones, while allowing “homestays” in residential and AG-1 zones, with restrictions. A homestay is a short-term tenancy in which an owner or long-term tenant of at least six months is on the property at the same time as the short-term tenants. STRs would also be allowed in commercial zones as well as a new proposed overlay (dubbed the Coastal Zone Historic Overlay Zone), located in Montecito. 

The overlay district spans from South Jameson Lane to the beach, between part of Danielson Road and Posilipo Lane. Roads including Edgecliff Lane, Miramar Beach, Humphrey Road, and Eucalyptus Lane are included in the overlay district. 

The STR ban was in front of the Coastal Commission on May 10 for certification/approval. According to the Coastal Commission’s staff report, the result of the certification of the amendment, as proposed by the County, would be to require approximately 506 existing STRs County-wide and 142 existing short-term rentals within the Coastal Zone to cease use as vacation rentals. The Coastal Commission denied the ban, citing too few overnight accommodations for coastal visitors, and extremely high demand for the County’s campground units. “Short-term vacation rental units provide an important visitor-serving amenity that supports coastal access, as attested to by the numerous letters submitted to the County and the Coastal Commission from current and prior renters of such units,” the staff report reads. 

Now, the ordinance will return to the Board of Supervisors in July, where several options in moving forward will be discussed. Jessica Metzger, a senior planner with the Long Range Planning Department, who has been working on the STR ordinance language for years, tells us there are likely three options that will be presented to the BOS. The first would be that the County “does nothing,” and vacation rentals could continue to operate in the Coastal Zone with no recourse. The second option is to expand the proposed historic overlay district, and a third option would be to propose regulations that would require STRs to obtain a permit and operate with regulations. 


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