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Local News

Santa Barbara Council Supports Creation of Tourism Business Improvement District

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for this month

The Santa Barbara City Council gave its approval Tuesday to move forward with creation of a Tourism Business Improvement District, designed to make local hoteliers more competitive.

The council unanimously agreed — only Councilman Grant House was absent — to allow the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission to hold a public hearing on the matter on July 27.

“I think it’s important to thank each one of you for stepping up in a dramatic time,” Councilman Das Williams said of the SBCVB&FC. “Instead of giving up or getting down, you guys got together.”

SBCVB&FC President and CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes said that other coastal cities, such as Monterey and San Diego, that have established TBIDs are drastically outspending Santa Barbara in marketing for tourism.

“We simply cannot compete if we only have two-thirds of the marketing dollars of our competitors,” she said.

If the TBID is formed, hotel patrons would be charged an additional 50 cents to $2 per night, depending on the size of the room and type of establishment. Such fees could be imposed starting as soon as Oct. 1.

Janega-Dykes said TBID revenues would match the SBCVB&FC’s current funding of $1.8 million.

“With the increased cooperation and funding comes the increased ability to impact our customers,” she said.

The marketing dollars would be used for radio and television advertising, with particular attention in Australian and European markets.

Janega-Dykes said that fewer domestic tourists have been staying in Santa Barbara for more than one day amid the economic downturn. Foreign tourists, therefore, have been tremendously helpful in maintaining the local hotel industry’s flow of longer-term customers, she said.

The TBID proposal will go before the Goleta City Council next week and the Carpinteria City Council in September to determine whether those jurisdictions also will be included, according to SBCVB&FC Chairman Tom Patton.

He said he was feeling “very encouraged” by the Santa Barbara council’s vote, but that he expects some opposition against the TBID at the public hearing this month.

“While I expect some opposition, I don’t expect it to be overwhelming,” he said.

No one voiced opposition during Tuesday’ public-comment period.

Patton said he hopes the TBID will help change the worldwide perception of Santa Barbara as solely a stopping point between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“People might know it from soap operas but can’t place it on the map,” he said.

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne will be a junior at Chapman University in the fall. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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