A Home Away

In response to your recent article about the fear that new Airbnb units will remove rental units from the market, the solution seems clear. Why not return to allowing “Home Sharing”?

In this model, the homeowner, while present, hosts a paying guest in a spare room. Most home sharers are empty nesters with vacant kids’ bedrooms or upscale homeowners with no intention of taking on a permanent roommate/housemate. So no units are being taken out of the rental pool. Guests, who are on their best behavior trying to earn good reviews, are well supervised by the owners, so no noise issues. The city could stipulate the homeowners be able to provide their own parking for guests.

Once again, the city would be reaping revenues from the TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) paid by hosts, which might fund their determination to police any non-compliant hosts and neighbor complaints.

Goleta has a nicely functioning system of permitting Airbnb home sharing. Many other communities and cities have made home sharing the exception to virtual bans on short-term rentals as we have in Santa Barbara. Home sharing is an easy way to keep tourists with a smaller budget rolling into our town to eat, drink, and shop.

FYI, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, Santa Barbara had 83,000 short-term rental guest arrivals in 2016, despite the fact that city enforcement spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on enforcing the ban in that year.

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