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Carpinteria Opts Out of South Coast Tourism District

The City of Carpinteria has decided against re-upping its membership in the Santa Barbara South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District, leaving its own business advocates in search of new funding sources.

The Visit Santa Barbara-run district aimed at increasing tourism and overnight stays in local hotels received final, unanimous approval from the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday, allowing the organization to enact a revamped South Coast TBID model billed as more equitable, effective Jan. 1.

Without Carpinteria, the district will cover only Santa Barbara, Goleta and unincorporated areas of southeastern Santa Barbara County, collecting assessment rates from local lodging customers to provide funding for marketing efforts.

The new version was expected to generate $3.1 million annually for the area, at least before the Carpinteria City Council voted against continued involvement.

That figure falls to $2.95 million without Carpinteria, Visit Santa Barbara spokeswoman Jaime Shaw said Tuesday.

Local governments approved the original South Coast TBID in 2010, with a five-year term set to expire Dec. 31, 2015.

After speaking with stakeholders in the tourism industry, Visit Santa Barbara requested changes to the TBID, and the Santa Barbara City Council approved them and early renewal in late October, as the district’s lead jurisdiction.

A Carpinteria City Council vote to continue the TBID discussion in favor of passage failed 2-2 in September, with Vice Mayor Gregg Carty and Councilman Al Clark dissenting.

Councilmen Wade Nomura and Fred Shaw supported continuing discussions, and Mayor Brad Stein did not vote due to an undisclosed conflict of interest.

The majority of the Carpinteria council didn’t approve the TBID again because they didn’t think enough local hotels showed interest — or disinterest — and said TBID didn’t provide enough advertising or TBID committee votes (only one for Carpinteria).

Clark took it a step further, alleging tourists already knew about Carpinteria and that the city did a good enough job on its own.

The decision takes funding from the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, which received $25,000 annually in TBID the past four years, according to chamber president Lynda Lang.

“The Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce was extremely disappointed with City Council’s decision not to renew the TBID for Carpinteria,” Lang said. “TBID funds have been used exclusively by the chamber to market Carpinteria as a destination, with the intention to promote a strong economy for our community and local businesses.”

Lang said the chamber has mentioned creating its own TBID in the past, but so far it hasn’t been discussed.

The new TBID plan, which lasts through the end of 2020, was expected to generate $1.38 million more for marketing efforts that the previous one, which applied to lodging with more than four rooms and varied from 50 cents per occupied room per night to $2, depending on the average daily rate charged by each business.

The new proposal applies to all lodging businesses, and rates vary from 75 cents per occupied room per night to $4 based on the same daily rates, including escalations in years three and five.

Vacation rentals will be assessed for the first time on a per-unit basis of $2 per night instead of a per-room rate.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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