Santa Barbara County short-term rentals


May 1, 2018

Santa Barbara County requested an amendment to its Local Coastal Program (LCP) to add new regulations to address short-term rentals and homestays. As proposed, the amendment excludes short-term rentals from residential zoning districts, except within a proposed Short-term Rentals Coastal Historic Overlay in the residentially zoned neighborhood of Miramar Beach. The amendment allows for homestays in residential zones.

The California Coastal Protection Network (CCPN) spoke in opposition to the County’s proposal, along with several residents. CCPN opposed the ban due to its conflicts with the Coastal Commission’s mandate to protect maximum public access, stating that reasonable short-term regulations are acceptable but de facto bans are not the answer and that the staff recommendation with suggested modifications to allow homestays and short-term rentals in guest houses in residential zones is inadequate and will do little to mitigate the de facto ban.

The County’s proposal to ban short-term rentals in residential zones with the sole exception of Miramar beach is suspect. The homes at Miramar are very expensive and located adjacent to the Rosewood Miramar Resort developed by Rick Caruso, who has referred to the resort as “the most expensive hotel in California.” With these two exclusive lodging options, the beach will effectively become a private beach for those who can afford to stay there.

Ultimately, Commissioners agreed that the County of Santa Barbara needs to reconsider their short-term rental ordinance proposal and denied the LCP amendment in a 7-3 vote.

Why You Should Care

Short-term rental regulations are a statewide issue and many local jurisdictions are bringing forth their proposed regulations to the Coastal Commission. Short-term rentals serve a definite function in providing public access, especially in Santa Barbara County where low-cost accommodations are scarce. The de facto ban is not consistent with the Coastal Act’s mandate to maximize public access to the coast.


Pro-Coast Vote

Anti-Coast Vote

Commissioner Mark Vargas supported the staff recommendation, with the caveat that they have to be careful because they may be protecting high-cost accommodations. He recommended a three-year reevaluation of the overlay portion of the ordinance and made an amending motion. The motion failed 7-3.

Chair Dayna Bochco disagreed with Commissioner Vargas and stated that it is difficult to find a place to stay and the hotels are extremely expensive. She felt the LCP amendment was premature and the County needs to continue to work on their plan for increasing low cost accommodations on the coast.

Commissioner Erik Howell did not support the staff recommendation or county’s proposal, stating the proposal is too restrictive. He motioned to reject the amendment and Commissioner Steve Padilla seconded the motion. Ultimately, the LCP amendment was rejected 7-3.

Organizations Opposed

CCPN, Local Residents

Decision Type

LCP Amendment

Staff Recommendation

Approval with modifications