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Goleta Council Votes to Join Revamped Tourism District

The City of Goleta has paved the way to renew an agreement to be part of the Santa Barbara South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District, an effort run by Visit Santa Barbara to increase tourism and overnight stays in local hotels.

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to join a revamped — and more equitable — model of South Coast TBID, a district that collects assessment rate from local lodging customers to provide funding for marketing efforts.

The TBID includes Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria and unincorporated areas of southeastern Santa Barbara County, and the new version is expected to generate $3.1 million annually for the area.

Increased assessment rates and the addition of vacation rentals were key points of the new TBID, which is supposed to generate $129,370 for Goleta marketing in the first year, beginning in January 2015, about 4.1 percent of total TBID funds.

Visit Santa Barbara needed Goleta approval before bringing the six-year district agreement before the City of Santa Barbara for final say. Goleta last granted consent in July 2010 and has collected more than $780,000 since January 2011 through its lodging, according to Visit Santa Barbara CEO Kathy Janega-Dykes.

Goleta staff gave a brief presentation before handing the podium to Janega-Dykes, who said the district provided “affordable branding” and a new opportunity for vacation rental properties, which would charge customers taxes for the first time but not appear in any marketing materials.

Under current TBID, assessment rates 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. In 2013-14, for example, Goleta collected approximately $375,000 through TBID.

After meeting with local lodging owners and others, Visit Santa Barbara decided to modify its TBID proposal, making it apply to all lodging businesses and rates varying from 75 cents per occupied room per night to $4 based on the same daily rates and including escalations in years three and five. Vacation rentals would be assessed on a per unit basis of $2 per night instead of a per room rate.

Janega-Dykes told council members that all but one hotel, Pacifica Suites, had signed a mandatory petition in favor of the TBID. Pacifica Suites was not opposed, she said, noting a need to set up a meeting.

She said the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce would handle TBID funds, which would also be monitored by a committee formed within Visit Santa Barbara.

Councilman Jim Farr lauded the program for bringing 817,000 annual visitors to Goleta, a better deal than creating Goleta’s own district.

Tony Vallejo, former president of the Goleta Valley Chamber, asked how Visit Santa Barbara targets Goleta visitors and if they track how many tourists stay in Goleta but dine in Santa Barbara — an ongoing challenge.

Councilman Roger Aceves questioned what Goleta gets out of the partnership and why rental vacation properties — the city has some 117 registered — were paying in but not getting advertising.

“How do we get people to say Visit Goleta?” he said. “How do we convince them that Goleta is also a great place to visit?”

Janega-Dykes assured Aceves that a vacation rental owner could me included on the TBID advisory committee, which also features three Goleta lodging owners. She said most vacation rentals don’t have websites or contact information regularly displayed, making the process difficult, although owners have been notified.

Testimonials from Bacara Resort & Spa general manager Kathleen Cochrane and Goleta Valley Chamber President Kristen Miller in support of the district seemed to sway Aceves, who made the motion to approve on the condition that Visit Santa Barbara makes sure Goleta gets its money’s worth.

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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