Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban title=
Santa Barbara Coastline (Photo: Max Rosenberg / file photo)
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara City's ban on the majority of short-term rentals in the Coastal Zone was rejected by an appeals court on Tuesday.

In 2015, the city banned vacation rentals along the beachside strip of land that extends approximately a half-mile inland and decided to treat the properties like hotels with limited permits. Before the ban there were 114 homes available for rent, afterwards, there were only six. 

City officials argued short-term rentals were driving up housing costs, reducing the amount of housing, and "changing the character of residential zones."

Second Appellate District Judge Steven Perren upheld the 2019 trial court’s decision effectively forcing Santa Barbara to allow short-term vacation rentals in the coastal zone. The lawsuit was brought on by Theo Kracke, CEO of Paradise Retreats, a local vacation rental company.

Judge Perren wrote in his opinion that regulation of short-term rentals must be decided by the city and the Coastal Commission stating, "The city cannot act unilaterally, particularly when it not only allowed the operation of [short -term vacation rentals] for years but also benefited from the payment of transient occupancy taxes.”

Steve Kinsey, the former head of the coastal commission, sent an advisory to several cities in 2016 stating vacation rental bans by local governments were unlikely to be legally enforceable.

The California Coastal Act requires that overnight accommodations in the Coastal Zone are to be available at a range of price points. Based on this landmark decision, the court rules that this Act protects the rights of property owners to rent their coastal residences. 

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PitMix May 10, 2021 07:41 AM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I like how the idiot Coastal Commission bases their decision on making sure that rentals are available at all price points, but does nothing to make sure that any rentals actually range from affordable to expensive? No way that any of those rentals will be affordable to regular people that want to visit Santa Barbara. Only to rich people, many of whom will want to party. What a nightmare for the neighbors.

Babycakes May 09, 2021 10:46 AM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Some years ago we were sick and tired of throwing away our money each month by renting. If someone like me can buy a house in SB, so you can. When we bought some 20 years ago, housing was not's NEVER going to be cheap to live and own a home here. What each of you renters can do is to set a goal and go for it! Sacrifice is the name of the game: keep your old beater car, don't take vacations, never eat/drink out, wear your shoes/clothes down to the "nib" ...thrift shop, MTD, don't eat out, don't buy drinks at bars/restaurants even if you "deserve it" .... massages: forget it; pedicures: forget it; buying gifts for family and friends: bake 'em cookies; lotto cards or trips to the casino: guaranteed lost money, These are just a few of the things you can do to get out of "Rental Hell." And when you own your own place, that's when you'll finally appreciate, or at least understand, your "greedy" landlords. Good Luck as the saying goes, but there's no luck to owning your own place unless someone gives you a home (which does happen!).

letmego May 09, 2021 04:43 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I mean, come on. Have you SEEN house prices right now? I mean, it's not 20 years ago anymore. A 2BR 1 BA <1000sf house from $560k to $1.1M from 2003 to 2021. That's not even 20 years. That makes total annual cost of the mortgage, etc at about $55-60k a year. Which should not be >30% of your income. Thus, you need an income of at least $183,00-200,000 a year.

The median household income in Santa Barbara is $75,000. A family could MAYBE afford $2000 a month. That will get you a 1 bedroom apartment.

biguglystick May 08, 2021 12:16 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Great. This is a HUGE loss for the local longtime RENTING residents in SB. Who protects US? There is a grave dire crippling housing shortage in this city for local residents. Rents are INSANE, and that is because every landlord out there can just make their extra rooms or units into STRs. Really needs regulation. This is a horrible decision. Local long time residents who cannot afford to buy need protection. STRs are KILLING housing availability.

SBTownie May 08, 2021 06:35 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Hmm... on second thought... having read this: it seems that perhaps NO city will be able to enforce any limit on STRs statewide. Horrible.

a-1620491429 May 08, 2021 09:30 AM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Several years ago, when Short Term Rentals (STRs) started to become more prevalent in SB, the City staff decided that STRs were to be treated as hotels with all of the attendant parking, safety and other hotel rules. When public hearings were held to discuss the issue, the staff members involved were formally reminded that STRs were neither traditional residential units nor hotels. They were urged to do what other communities had done to recognize that fact and were advised to work with the growing STR stake holders to craft ordinances that dealt with the reality of the situation. But instead they chose to ignore that advice and continued to try to "force a square peg into a round hole.”

The result, as we see, is that the City staff was wrong and the advice they chose to ignore was correct.

The really sad thing in all of this is that no one on the City staff will be held accountable for this (and other) bad decisions, decisions that have cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Many of the staff are convinced that they are the experts and don’t need to take advice about issues like this. Moreover they simply don't care about wrong decisions since there is no accountability. In the private sector many of the senior City officials would have been fired a long time ago. But in the public sector they keep their jobs and get raises every year leading to very lucrative retirements.

a-1620529906 May 08, 2021 08:11 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Glad to have helped. I apologize for being a little snarky. I was a paralegal long ago; it's now hard for me to parse legal writing. I save my energy for national news re: Supreme Court decisions, lol.

a-1620444210 May 07, 2021 08:23 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I searched this phrase from the article: "Judge Perren wrote in his opinion that regulation of short-term rentals" which sent me to
which contains this link:

Seems anyone up to reading a ruling could find it, so enjoy!

NotReallyDave May 07, 2021 08:58 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

JG, In our EastSide neighborhood, for one business, many zoning laws have been violated, nuisances have been reported multiple times, and the City Attorney has failed to uphold the Zoning Ordinance regulations he is supposed to adhere to. He has also schemed to protect that business and the City "team players" that caused the illegal occupation. There is a major "Staff Infection" within the City of Santa Barbara.

SBREADER May 07, 2021 08:24 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Not even close and I will use this opportunity to state, again, this era of disinformation is very troubling. If you don't know what you are talking about keep it to yourself. Probably half the people who read that assumed "AlexBlue" knows what he is talking about. It is sad and very unfortunate. The uninformed/disinformation era. "... the coastal zone is a half mile inland period"... There are general criteria for where the Coastal Zone should be but from one end of the State to the other, there are any number of applications. Most communities decided where the "Coastal Zone" should be when they initiated their compliance with the Coastal Act. For example the City of Carpinteria chose to include the entire City in the Coastal Zone. That was a discretionary decision not dictated by the Coastal Act. The same applies up and down the Coast. As far as the change required by this decision in SB, just read the article, before the City regulation there were 114 properties available, after regulation only 6. In the future there will be no regulation on the number of vacation rentals. I think that makes a change! And yes this applies to FernaldPoint and everywhere else on the South Coast. Alex knows not what he is talking about and PLEASE if you don't know what you are talking about, do not dissemble misinformation to the uninformed!!!

JG_in_SB May 07, 2021 06:19 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I am an actively practicing Land Use professional. The City of Carpinteria already has a STR ordinance in place. They developed it, took it through the California Coastal Commission, got it approved, and now it regulates STRs in Carpinteria.

Santa Barbara could have, and should have done the same thing. That's actually what City Staff originally recommended to City Council. Instead, our City Attorney decided that he was super clever. He came up with a scheme to change the law without "changing the text" of the law. Why would the City do that you ask? The City Attorney knows the Coastal Commission would never support a total ban on STRs but that's precisely what our elected officials wanted to do. So he effectively advised City Council to break the law and initiate a ban without getting the required Coastal Commission review. That's obvious to anyone who understands Coastal Development Permits, and it was certainly obvious to both the Trial Court and the Appeals Court.

Sort of ironic isn't it? Given how aggressively the City pursues anyone other than themselves who does anything without a permit....

Alexblue May 07, 2021 02:52 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

Well, as I understand it, the coastal zone is a half a mile inland period, and currently STRs are legal in that zone--SB City was trying to ban them, but the City has been ruled against, so that changes nothing--still legal in the coastal zone in all the areas that Fernando Point cited. Why, Fernando, you thinking you might rent out your place to drug smugglers escaping from the cartels?

SBREADER May 07, 2021 02:21 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I am a retired local land use professional. The Court is interpreting Coastal Act law that applies throughout the State, in the Coastal Zone. Very scary. Carpinteria is next??? Applies throughout the State, to any community with land that lies within the Coastal Zone.

Babycakes May 07, 2021 12:46 PM
Court Rejects Santa Barbara's Coastal Vacation Rental Ban

I've said this alllllll along: What was the city thinking? (or NOT thinking as is the case)
The city should have worked with the STR people to rectify the situation, now every single last Tom/Dick/Harry home owner (or even renters) are going to open up their places as STRs. Supply and Demand is what determines the prices of STRs. SB will almost certainly never have the "supply" because there will be "demand" to visit SB until the end of time. When "we" build more houses/apartments/hotels, it only allows more people who can afford to stay in SB. It's not like SB is going to run out of good weather, beaches, mountains, wine, beer.....but we are always going to run out of places to stay!

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