Illegal short-term housing rentals on sites like AirBnB and VRBO are threatening the well-being of our neighbors and the character of our community.
Replacing long-term, local tenants with temporary visitors who don’t work, live, or add to our community erodes the fabric of our neighborhoods. How can I know and care about my neighbors if my neighbors are a revolving cast of tourists? Illegal AirBnBs are also disruptive to those who live and work here — there’s a reason hotels aren’t generally permitted in residential areas.
Owners of illegal short-term rentals flaunt zoning requirements and avoid paying Transient Occupancy Taxes, obtaining business licenses, and ensuring health and safety standards are met. During COVID-19, illegal AirBnBs put neighborhoods at risk of infection and encourage unsafe practices, such as non-essential travel, and there’s no way to ensure they adhere to appropriate preventative measures.
Illegal AirBnBs are also contributing to our housing crisis during a pandemic. There are people in Santa Barbara who have been evicted to make way for illegal short-term rentals and others who can’t find housing but see a plethora of costly AirBnBs available. When the national eviction moratorium expires, millions of tenants across the country will face eviction. Removing usable housing from the rental market in order to illegally rent it to tourists during a global pandemic, when so many in our community have lost their jobs and are facing homelessness, is morally bankrupt.
Is this the kind of community we want to be?
To learn more or get involved, visit www.sbtu.org.