Proposed Short-Term Rental Enforcement Pilot Program Aims to Protect Local Housing Stock

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SANTA BARBARA, CA – 04/24/2023 – The City will discuss the creation of a short-term rental enforcement pilot program to assess the existence of unregulated short-term rentals operating within the City with the goal of protecting rental housing stock and neighborhood character.

The objective of the 12-month program is to gather accurate data on the number, location and seasonality of short-term vacation rentals operating in the City before shifting efforts to enforcement of the City’s zoning laws through investigation and, if necessary, prosecution of operating illegal rentals. The program would be a joint effort of the City Attorney’s Office and Finance Department. 

Housing is a top priority of the City Council and the community and the use of or acquisition of properties to conduct illegal short-term rentals reduces available residential housing and can have adverse impacts on a neighborhood. City staff will bring a recommendation to the City Council on April 25, 2023 to approve funding for resources needed for appropriate inspection and enforcement. The recommended funding is estimated at $1,175,000. 

Currently, short-term rentals are not allowed in most inland areas as those zones are generally residential. In the coastal area, enforcement is complaint-driven due to nuisance-like conditions. In zones which allow short term rental use, property owners can apply for a land use conversion permit to legally operate. The property must comply with the City’s zoning ordinance before such a permit can be issued.

Promotion of the proposed program has already prompted inquiries from property owners wanting to be proactive about the situation with their rentals.  There have also been inquiries about obtaining a business tax certificate.  However, a business tax certificate does not legalize a short-term rental.

To determine if a property is in the coastal region, visit the City’s Accela Citizen Access site or email:

To apply for a land conversion in order to operate a short-term rental, email:


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