Friday, November 16 , 2018, 2:34 am | Fair 48º


Santa Barbara County Voters Oppose Higher Bed Tax Rates

A ballot measure asking voters to increase the bed-tax for local hotels and motels in Santa Barbara County's unincorporated area was soundly defeated during Tuesday's election.

Measure O would have raised the transient-occupancy tax rate, often known as a hotel tax or a bed tax because people who rent a short-term room are charged the fee.

Final election numbers on Tuesday showed voters opposed Measure O weighing in at 58.5 percent, with 41.5 percent voting in favor.

The measure would have only applied to unincorporated areas of the county — cities set and collect their own transient-occupancy taxes — and would have raised the current rate to 12.5 percent from 10 percent.

The measure needed a simple majority to win, and because of its failure, the tax rate will remain at 10 percent.

The current rate generates $7.5 million last year for the county and proponents of the measure said a rate increase would bring in an additional $1.9 million each year into the county’s general fund.

The measure put two county supervisors who are often aligned politically on opposing sides.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino has spoken out in favor of the measure, reasoning that the county hasn’t raised the tax in 24 years.

“For a long time, our Board (of Supervisors) has been trying to find ways to direct more money toward economic development and this would be a perfect tool,” he said, adding that the money would be collected from people who live outside the area and stay in local hotels.

Lavagnino said the money would go toward promoting Santa Barbara County as a destination.

Meanwhile, Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam said he wouldn’t support the measure because the money isn’t being used for a specific purpose.

“This ‘trust us’ thing I can’t agree with,” he said. “This is a thinly veiled attempt to throw more money at the general fund.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.