Update on Short-term Rentals

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   June 13, 2023

At a Montecito Association Land Use & Transportation Committee meeting earlier this week, Executive Director Sharon Byrne and First District Supervisor representative Darcel Elliott gave an update on plans for a Short Term Rental (STR) Ordinance for the Coastal Zone in Montecito. As it stands now, the only ordinance pertaining to STRs in Montecito is in the inland zone, where the only type of allowable short-term rental is a homestay, when an owner or long-term tenant is on the property during the time of a short-term tenancy. 

According to Byrne, the tax collector’s office has sent out 23 letters in the Coastal Zone and 33 letters in the inland zone in Montecito to enforce STRs – both illegal and legal – that do not have business permits and are not paying Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Even illegal STRs are required to pay TOT taxes, Byrne said. 

Elliott reported that all enforcement at the County level is reactive, not proactive, and that in order for the County to be proactive, they would need to hire a full-time staff member, to the tune of $145,000 per year. “The County just does not have the budget for that,” she said. “That position cannot be funded at this time, but Das [Williams] is open to asking for that funding in the future.” 

To report an illegal STR, Elliott recommends using the Planning & Development website to file a complaint at www.countyofsb.org/160/Planning-Development

Because of the volume of work associated with various other projects including the Housing Element, the County has had to postpone any work on an updated STR ordinance for the Coastal Zone until 2024/2025. Currently, STRs in the Coastal Zone are unregulated, as the Coastal Commission rejected Santa Barbara County’s attempt at prohibiting STRs in the entirety of Montecito in May 2018.  


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