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County Supervisors Approve TBID for Lodging in Unincorporated Areas

The Tourism Business Improvement District will include nine such hotels

Hotels in Southern Santa Barbara County’s unincorporated areas may get a bit more exposure after the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved including them in a Tourism Business Improvement District.

After the 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Doreen Farr dissenting, the TBID will include nine hotels from the unincorporated area.

The City of Santa Barbara requested that the county allow lodging establishments in the unincorporated area to participate in the TBID area, which extends the length of the South Coast. In May, the board considered and approved a similar item, and voted to create a TBID for the Santa Ynez Valley.

The TBID, which is a self-imposed district tax, works by assessing a sliding fee on each occupied room, and the county collects the revenues and turns them over to the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau, which uses the fees to market the area and promote tourism.

Forty-nine jurisdictions across California have formed TBIDs in the past five years, and county staff said the TBID is expected to increase room night occupancy, sales and transient occupancy tax.

The program will begin Jan. 1 and last for five years. It’s projected to create $1.82 million in annual revenue, with 14 percent of that coming from the unincorporated area. As of last week, the City of Santa Barbara received five letters of protest from hotels, but none were in the county unincorporated area.

Kathy Janega-Dykes of the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau said the decision is a result of discussions that have spanned the past three years. Tourism business affects all business within the county, she said, adding that “never before has this been more evident over the last two years.”

Bill Phelps of the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association said the group hasn’t had any pushback from guests since the TBID has been in place.

Although four of the county supervisors voted to approve the district, Farr dissented and expressed concerns that the TBID map included parts of agricultural land, such as the Gaviota Coast and orchards. She said she couldn’t support a map that overlays urban uses on those areas.

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

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