Santa Barbara’s Ordinance to Ban New Hotels Falls Through

Temporary Ordinance Fails to Receive Enough Votes, City Council Split on Issue

Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Three weeks ago, on June 7, Santa Barbara City Council first discussed an urgency ordinance that would temporarily ban new hotels — at least while the city tackled the pressing issue of proving it could meet the state allocation of 8,000 units for the next housing element cycle — and voted 5-2 to move forward, directing city staff to return with a final draft on June 28.

But when council returned for final approval on Tuesday, the ordinance failed on a 4-3 vote failing to get five votes needed to pass an emergency order. Councilmembers Oscar Gutierrez, Kristen Sneddon, Eric Friedman, and Meagan Harmon supported the ordinance, but it ultimately failed when Councilmember Mike Jordan joined Mayor Randy Rowse and Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez in opposition.

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Councilmembers voting against the ordinance said it would be mostly symbolic, since it would exclude hotels that had already submitted applications; there are currently more than 700 hotel rooms from at least 21 different hotel projects in the city development pipeline.

Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez said she understood the urgency of the housing crisis but felt that the ordinance was too rushed for her to be comfortable moving forward.

“I don’t think you’re looking at the forest through the trees here,” said Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, who voted in support of the hotel ban to offset a severe housing need in the city. “We’re already in a bad place when it comes to housing; just wait a few more months.

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