Montecito Says No to Short-Term Rentals

Growing sentiment countywide against short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods received more unanimous backing with the Montecito Planning Commission’s recent support of an all-out ban, even in areas where vacation homes have been operating for years, such as Miramar Beach.

While the five-member commission remained open to short-term vacation rental proponents, who cautioned against a blanket beatdown based on temporary traffic congestion and a few noisy party pads, their hardline unanimous vote boiled down to preserving the semirural residential character spelled out in Montecito’s 23-year-old community plan.

“We have to draw a line in the sand,” said commissioner Susan Keller, who related a story about her longstanding next-door neighbors – “a lovely family with a small child” – getting booted by their landlady because “she decided she could make a killing by renting out her home [on a short-term basis].”

While Keller’s anecdote exemplified the growing concern that the exploding number of vacation getaways has removed long-term rentals from an already strained market, it also spoke to what she called “a void.” Where once lived a family — with ties to neighbors and a kid lined up with local schools — is now an empty shell periodically occupied by out-of-towners with little vested interest in the greater Montecito community.

The commission’s sentiment — essentially an advisory opinion — will be taken into consideration as the County Board of Supervisors addresses the issue next year.

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