Airbnb listing Guadalupe

A screengrab from Airbnb shows one of several short-term rental listings in Guadalupe. A new ordinance approved by the City Council on Tuesday sets a series of regulations for these vacation rentals in order to limit noise, parking issues and nuisances for neighbors.

"Beach home near golf, wineries, dunes & Vandenberg" for $252 a night.
"Hidden tranquility — mid-stop between LA and SF" for $45 a night.
 
Guadalupe homes like these listed on Airbnb, Vrbo and other vacation rental platforms will soon face increased local regulations under a new ordinance approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The ordinance outlines specific requirements for both hosted rentals, where the owner lives on-site, and unhosted rentals, with the latter facing substantially more regulations related to permits and noise control.

Discussions about regulating and even banning such rentals began in 2020, as residents raised concerns about noise, parking issues and general safety. While such a ban was adopted in 2017 for Santa Barbara County's unincorporated residential areas, Guadalupe officials opted instead for regulation, spending the last several months fine-tuning an ordinance.

According to City Administrator Todd Bodem, the regulations are intended to limit nuisances for neighbors and ensure the rentals are being operated safely without surprise guests. So far, officials have identified between 10 and 12 short-term rentals currently operating in Guadalupe.

"It’s not a huge number, but it’s growing. Our little community is really growing now, and we’re starting to get on the map," Bodem said in December. "It's not to say we don't want them; it's more to control them."

A search on Airbnb for rentals in Guadalupe returns 18 different options. Several of the owners operate two or more rentals in the city, a factor that will pose a problem since the ordinance restricts hosts from operating more than one local short-term rental. 

While both hosted and unhosted vacation rentals will be required to register with the city and obtain a business license, operators who don't live on-site — that is, those who are not in the residence between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day — will also be required to obtain an administrative use permit in order to operate.

Owners of unhosted rentals must also enforce only on-site parking for renters; install outdoor security cameras to monitor all individuals entering the rental; designate a local contact to connect with law enforcement when needed; and restrict use of outdoor space past 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and past 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Both hosted and unhosted rentals must also collect and pay transient occupancy tax unless already managed by the hosting platform.

The council struggled to come to a consensus regarding the maximum number of days per year that unhosted short-term rentals would be permitted to operate, as well as the grace period to be given to current hosts to comply with the ordinance.

"It took about four or five meetings of discussion on getting the details of the ordinance right. There were a lot of questions and back and forth," Bodem said. 

By Tuesday, council members settled on limiting operations at rentals without an on-site host to 120 days per year, with no restrictions for hosted rentals. The grace period for compliance was increased from the previous recommendation of one month after the ordinance goes into effect to three months.

The ordinance will go into effect on a date following the second reading and adoption by the City Council on Jan. 25, likely after 30 days, Bodem said.

Even with the ordinance, a full ban of vacation rentals is not entirely off the table. According to a staff report, City Attorney Phil Sinco took time to investigate the potential legal ramifications of establishing a ban and rescinding the permits administered to hosts.

"Should the City Council pass an ordinance in the future banning short-term rentals, it would be best (to reduce legal risk) for the ordinance to grant a reasonable period of time for short-term rentals to continue to operate before requiring them to cease operations," the staff report states. 

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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