A new study backed by vacation rental owners and a popular vacation rental platform claims that short-term rentals accounted for more than $471.6 million in economic activity throughout Santa Barbara County in 2014.
The study was commissioned by Home Away, an Austin, Texas-based vacation rental marketplace with more than one million vacation rental listings in 190 countries. Austin-based economic consulting firm the TXP Group used the data from 2,200 Santa Barbara area listings on Home Away to compile its study, the firm told the Business Times. TXP estimates that there are about 2,550 short-term rentals in the county.
The study reported that short-term renters, defined as staying less than 30 days, spent about $129.8 million on lodging in 2014. For every $100 a visitor spent on lodging, they spent an additional $201 on food, recreation, transportation and shopping. That translates to direct spending of $390 million and an estimated total impact of $471.6 million, according to the study.
Cities and counties throughout the tri-county region have taken different approaches to regulating short-term rentals.
The city of Santa Barbara only allows short-term rentals in commercial zones. This has always been the case, but officials previously looked the other way to collect business license fees and transient occupancy taxes. The city earned about $1.2 million in TOT from vacation rentals in the 2015 fiscal year.
The city of Goleta allows short-term renters in any zone as long as homeowners obtain a license and operation permit, provide a “nuisance response” plan, and acquire a $1,500 surety bond. The city of Ventura’s ordinance is similar.
The city of San Luis Obispo allows short-term rentals only if the property owner is on site.
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will meet on Feb. 24 to discuss a potential ordinance that could allow short-term rentals in agricultural zones.
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]