Currently, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is conducting a review and clarification of provisions concerning the use of short-term rentals within the unincorporated areas of the county. Having actively participated in each public forum and workshop for this project, and observing considerable support for both sides of the ordinance, I’d like to advocate for and demonstrate a case for meeting in the middle — let there be fair regulation of short-term rentals (STRs) in the unincorporated areas of the county.
I founded Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals 10 years ago and have built a stellar reputation managing the highest quality vacation rental homes. Exceptional property management is a critical commitment we make to both our homeowners and guests, and we put the very highest value on trusting, long-term relationships.
We encourage the County Board of Supervisors to support local residents and short-term-rental providers as we work with local authorities to advance fair and reasonable regulations that safeguard travelers, alleviate neighborhood concerns, and allow the short-term-rental marketplace to continue to thrive to the benefit of all stakeholders. Let reputable agencies, such as ours, manage vacation rentals where our agency highly regulates guests through our rigorous screening process and thoroughly professional rental contracts.
There are over 6,500 visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley on any given weekend. Currently, there are only 1,500 hotel rooms to accommodate these guests. Building new hotels to help try and accommodate all the tourists who come to town would be development that the same residents against vacation rentals would not want to see. Also to be seriously considered is the risk of increased drinking and driving back to Santa Barbara to find accommodations if there are not enough options available for visitors experiencing Santa Barbara’s Wine Country.
The reality for regulators is that the short-term-rental industry has already gained significant momentum, creating its own political and economic constituencies of property owners and customers. San Francisco-based Airbnb, the largest player, claims more than 1 million listings worldwide. Santa Ynez Valley Rentals does not use Airbnb for marketing purposes, but we understand these growing numbers cannot be ignored.
Economic Impact on the Community
Our company contributes significantly towards the county’s Transient Occupancy Tax, which collected over $1.2 million last year. Many of our homes were purchased specifically for the purpose of becoming a short-term-rental property. Without the income generated from these rentals, many homeowners would be forced to sell. Short-term-rental homeowners often depend on this income to maintain their home properly and/or for retirement.
As it relates to the community, our company’s rental business contributes greatly to the local economy. We provide resources and activities for guests and homeowners, which promote many local businesses and licensed vendors. Many local businesses, such as the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, also depend on vacation rentals to help accommodate their clients.
Lastly, Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals believes in giving back to our community. Not only do we run an eco-friendly company, we also make significant financial contributions to local organizations including People Helping People, Angels Foster Care, Santa Barbara Youth Project, Environmental Defense Center, Solvang School, and the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation to name a few.
Preserving the Integrity of the Community
Santa Ynez Valley Rental is committed to preserving the natural beauty and integrity of the Santa Ynez Valley, and we go to great lengths to ensure the homeowners we work with do too. Our company encourages all properties to use low-flow water systems, solar whenever possible, and to consider native, in addition to drought-tolerant, landscape. Our vacation rental properties are exceptionally maintained and would not otherwise be identified in the community as a rental property.
I hope the County Board of Supervisors will support both the local residents and short-term-rental providers, and agree to implement fair and reasonable short-term-rental regulations that ensure neighborhood concerns are addressed, while continuing to allow the short-term-rental marketplace to continue to operate to the benefit of all stakeholders.
Leanne Schlinger is president of Santa Ynez Vacation Rentals.