BOS & Land Use Committee Discuss Short-Term Rentals

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   September 3, 2020

On Tuesday, September 1, the Board of Supervisors considered revisions to an ordinance pertaining to short-term vacation rentals (STRs) in unincorporated Santa Barbara County. The last ordinance drafted was in 2017/2018, but was quickly denied by the Coastal Commission, which cited the failure of the ordinance to protect existing overnight accommodations in the Coastal Zone. This reduction in visitor-serving overnight accommodations, the CCC concluded, would prohibit or unduly restrict the public’s ability to access and recreate on the coast. The CCC findings also state that the allowed homestays, which are allowed throughout Montecito, would not meet the needs of larger groups or families seeking accommodations when traveling to the coast.

Staff released numbers of STRs in South County; Montecito has the most at 72, with Summerland having 50 STRs.

The Board of Supervisors gave direction to staff on drafting a new ordinance that will go back to the Coastal Commission. They voted to shape an ordinance with the following parameters: the rental needs to be a primary residence (not a second or third home); the County should give preference to those who have history running a rental; the rental needs a valid annual business license, which would not transfer with the sale of the property; consider building an overlay district which would include the north side of the freeway; no restrictions on number of bedrooms; and a person can only own one short-term rental. ADUs are also not allowed to be used as an STR.

Later in the day at the Montecito Association’s Land Use Committee meeting, MA executive director Sharon Byrne reported that she’s seen a slight uptick in complaint calls about STRs in Montecito, but before the pandemic, the calls were fewer.
“It is slowly destroying our neighborhoods,” said longtime STR opposer Sybil Rosen, who said enforcement is the key to having peaceful short-term rentals in the neighborhood.

The Land Use Committee will monitor the developments and give input as the ordinance is drafted.


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