We have a great opportunity for a change in leadership with our current election of a new mayor and three councilmembers. Hopefully to a more open minded and creative City Council than the current group that decided to enforce the code that supposedly prohibits short-term rentals (STR) in residential zones. Cathy Murillo played a key role in this decision. Councilmember Murillo fails to recognize that the decision has caused significant impacts to contributing members of our community. Allowing a wind-down period is rather meaningless in the long term.
I imagine that City Council assumed this issue would have gone away by now. There is a reason that it hasn’t. It is that important to many residents of Santa Barbara. The most frustrating part is that many homestays and STRs do not take housing out of the rental market. Examples include a family going on vacation and renting their house while gone so they can afford the trip, an extra bedroom that is used for visiting relatives and not appropriate for a long-term renter, and a primary resident who spends part of the year living somewhere else. Simple regulation of STRs and home stays is possible. A win-win is possible. Allow STRs and homestays in primary residences. As a bonus, the tax revenue could be used for affordable housing programs. I implore Cathy Murillo and her Housing Task Force to be open minded and see the pain they are causing with their attack on STRs.
The following two examples further illustrate the ramifications of the enforcement on STRs. A friend that runs an organization that helps children with disabilities used a portion of his home for STR. Following city enforcement, my friend had to sell his house and move his family. A single mom I know uses an extra bedroom in her house for home stay. She is barely making it economically. She risks the fines from the city but does not see a better choice for her and her child. Two of many stories.
Simple regulation is possible! Let’s find common ground. I invite others to please share their stories of how STRs have helped them in Santa Barbara.