In a 3-2 vote, the Carpinteria City Council narrowly voted to keep the city’s current short-term rental program as is. Councilmembers Roy Lee and Gregg A. Carty voted no; Councilmember Natalia Alarcon, Vice Mayor Al Clark and Mayor Wade Nomura voted yes. 

The matter will be brought back to the council at a future meeting, pending staff review of the program’s administrative issues with both its short-term vacation rentals and its homestay rentals. 

Monday’s vote stemmed from issues with 13 short-term vacation rentals operating outside Carpinteria’s allowed vacation rental area. Under current city policy, vacation rentals are limited to the vacation rental overlay district, located below the railroad tracks and split into four: areas A, B, C and D. Several years ago, when the council first voted to limit the short-term rental program to those four areas, those outside of the boundaries were given five years to shut down as vacation rentals or apply for long-term rental status.

Now, that deadline for those 13 to shutter operations is coming up – June 30, 2022. Seven units, Community Development Director Steve Goggia said, currently want to operate outside of the vacation district past the deadline. 

But Monday’s vote held firm the shutdown deadline, and prevented any current extension of the vacation rental overlay district’s boundaries, which would have to go through the Coastal Commission. 

Prior to the vote, Lee brought up the possibility of a one-year pilot program, to look at expanding the zone, while Alarcon discussed an extension to the shutdown deadline. 

“I do think it’s incredibly important to protect our (long-term) housing,” Alacron said. “(But) I do have empathy for everyone who is outside of the area.” 

Mayor Nomura spoke against making proposed changes to the program. 

“Right now with the change that we are looking at, I think my opinion would be to keep it the way it is,” he said. 

Carty, who was on the council when the council first implemented the program several years ago, also expressed his concern over allowing vacation rentals outside of the district to continue to exist. 

“I was on the council when we were going through this (the first time),” he said. “I was worried vacation rentals would go rampant. They didn’t – but they could.”

But ultimately, with Clark’s motion, the program will currently remain unchanged as of now. 

Several public commentors, including former City Councilmember Fred Shaw and Planning Commissioner Jane Benefield, spoke strongly against changing the city’s current short-term rental program. 

“It doesn’t make sense to change it,” Shaw said, expressing concern that “a few property owners can push the city to make a few changes to the ordinance.” 

Benefield echoed similar thoughts – noting that she was not speaking in her capacity as planning commissioner – stating her concerns about the effects on Carpinteria’s long-term residents. 

“There are very few vacancies for people who want to make Carpinteria their homes,” she noted. 

Another public commenter, short-term vacation rental owner Tom Vernon, spoke in favor of expansions to the city’s current program. 

“(I am not) a greedy developer,” he said. “I was in a completely different business for 30 years (…) the property has been very rewarding.” 

Assistant Editor

Evelyn Spence is CVN's Assistant Editor. She graduated from UCSB with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Professional Writing, and has worked as a reporter in Santa Barbara County for four years. Send tips to evelyn@coastalview.com.

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