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Short-Term Rentals


In the City of Santa Barbara, short-term residential rentals, including vacation rentals and home sharing, are regulated as "Hotels," pursuant to that definition in the Zoning Ordinance:

"A building, group of buildings or a portion of a building which is designed for or occupied as the temporary abiding place of individuals for less than thirty (30) consecutive days including, but not limited to establishments held out to the public as auto courts, bed and breakfast inns, hostels, inns, motels, motor lodges, time share projects, tourist courts, and other similar uses." 

In June 2015, City Council directed staff to continue enforcement of the City's existing zoning regulations prohibiting all short-term residential rentals, unless properly permitted. 

Between June and December 2015, staff and decision-makers explored options to allow and regulate home sharing operations in areas where residential uses are allowed. On December 8, 2015, City Council voted to forego further development of such an ordinance. As a result, all short-term residential rentals remain prohibited in the City, unless they receive proper land use approvals and permits, as necessary.

Regulation of Legally Permitted Short-term Rentals

Short-term rentals and home sharing operations are "hotels" and considered a non-residential use for zoning purposes. As such, if all required approvals are obtained, they may only legally operate in zones that allow hotels. The map below depicts the zones in which short-term rentals and home sharing operations may be allowed, subject to compliance with all applicable regulations.

Due to many unique factors and site-specific limitations involved in converting existing residential units to short-term rentals, a Planner Consultation is highly recommended to obtain detailed procedural information for a site, after you have confirmed that the use is allowed in the zone. To view information that generally describes the steps required to legally permit and operate a short-term rental, please click here.


Enforcement efforts will focus on achieving long-term compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and recovery of unpaid Business License and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Concerns regarding potentially unlawful short-term rentals or home sharing operations should be directed to the City's code enforcement staff by either visiting the Building and Zoning Code Violations web page or calling the "Request for Investigation" hotline at (805) 897-2676.

Upcoming Meetings

In August 2015, City Council directed staff to return in six months with an update on enforcement efforts. Two updates have since been provided on March 1, 2016 and October 11, 2016. Ongoing updates will be in the form of memorandums, found on the Reference Documents page.

Stay Informed

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Last Updated: Aug 22, 2018
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