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Santa Barbara, Carpinteria Discussing Rules, Taxes for Short-Term Vacation Rentals

The issue of short-term vacation rentals will come to the forefront again next week, when Santa Barbara and Carpinteria officials tackle regulating the growing phenomenon popularized by Airbnb and other websites.

Carpinteria City Council will discuss the issue for the first time at a council meeting Monday, inviting residents to voice opinions about the units rented for fewer than 30 consecutive days — some in neighborhoods where they’re allowed and others where they’re not.

Santa Barbara City Council will take up the subject a second time Tuesday, getting a closer look at whether the city should amend its zoning code to allow home sharing and to better define the difference.

Home sharing involves renting part of a dwelling that’s a primary residence, with the host present during the stay.

Back in June, Santa Barbara officials voted to uphold a ban on short-term vacation rentals in residential zones — an existing but heavily ignored city ordinance — and directed staff to come up with an enhanced enforcement plan.

Council members opted to give current illegal renters a yet-to-be-determined grace period to discontinue the practice.

More than 90 people spoke at that meeting, upset Santa Barbara has forced short-term vacation rental owners to register for a business license and to pay transient-occupancy taxes while calling the practice illegal in residential zones, since it’s considered a business.

Santa Barbara council will consider spending $180,000 of general fund money to help with enforcement, legal services and ongoing staff costs.

Officials will also contemplate subpoenaing vacation rental websites, issuing fines to zoning ordinance violators and whether short-term rental owners flying under the radar should pay back bed taxes.

Santa Barbara council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

Nearly 350 such rentals are registered in Santa Barbara — officials think it’s likely many more — and Carpinteria officials estimate 271 short-term rentals currently exist.

Carpinteria residents have complained to the city about short-term vacation rentals operating outside allowed zones, so the city will review its current code.

That code permits property owners outside single-family residential zones to offer short-term rentals, with most in multi-family residential areas near the beach.

Carpinteria City Council could take action Monday and will also consider a home stay option. Carpinteria’s meeting will be Monday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall, 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

In February, Goleta City Council approved a new ordinance requiring short-term vacation rental property owners in Goleta to apply for a business license, submit a “nuisance response plan” and pay a fee of about $75 for a permit to operate, among other rules.

That ordinance took effect July 1, and staff members were reaching out to register rentals last week. The city couldn’t share any progress yet.

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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