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Goleta Signs On with Forming Tourism Business Improvement District

Councilman Roger Aceves is the lone dissenter, citing uncertainties in the plan

The Goleta City Council and Redevelopment Agency gave their consent Tuesday to proceed with forming a Tourism Business Improvement District in the hopes that the marketing and advertising dollars assessed on local hotels will result in more visitors and more income.

The regional body — which would be made up of the city and South Coast unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta — would place an additional nominal assessment on hotel stays, the income from which would go to the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission exclusively for the promotion and marketing of the South Coast as a tourist destination.

Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, said the annual income from the assessment is estimated at $1.8 million.

“We are in agreement that the local hospitality industry, including Goleta hotels, need to establish a South Coast business improvement district,” Janega-Dykes said, referring to the three years of talks and presentations, focus groups and research that went into putting the program together.

There are about 49 such TBIDs in California, up from about seven a couple of years ago. All are involved in aggressively marketing their regions as tourist destinations.Similar coastal destinations spend an average of $500 per room in marketing, while the Santa Barbara region spends about $287 per room, according to Janega-Dykes.

“This only increases the need an urgency to establish our own TBID as well,” she said.

The assessment on local hotels would be determined on an average daily rate. The system is tiered, with the lowest assessment on hotels with rooms costing less than $100 per night at 50 cents and the highest tier at $2 per stay on rooms costing more than $200 per night. While the assessment is levied on the hotels, it’s highly likely the fee will be passed on to the guests.

Janega-Dykes said studies have shown that visitors are accustomed to such fees. In comparison, the Santa Ynez Valley’s TBID recently established a flat-rate TBID of $2.

A staff report indicates that Goleta hotels are largely in favor of the assessment, except for Bacara Resort & Spa, which indicated it would not sign documents supporting the plan but would not oppose the scheme either.

The City of Santa Barbara would take the lead in establishing the TBID through the visitors bureau, which already has the staff for the effort, while Goleta, Carpinteria and the unincorporated area would give consent to the district boundaries. The jurisdictions involved are making five-year commitments at a time, and it would take a simple majority of hotels in the district to dissolve the union.

“Goleta hotels would be in the minority,” Goleta Councilman Roger Aceves said, adding that the city has seven hotels and three pending that have not been approached by the visitors bureau. He said there are too many uncertainties in the plan for him to support it, but the other members of the council and Redevelopment Agency voted in the city’s consent.

“To stay competitive, it was clear we had to do something,” Mayor Eric Onnen said.

The Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission still has a ways to go before establishing the TBID, with plans to confer with the other jurisdictions in the proposed district in the coming weeks. If successful, it expects to begin collections in October.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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