Local accommodation or vacation rentals? | Opinion

Your family members’ schedules finally line up, and you can plan a week-long vacation together. You’re hoping to find a place where you can all be together – not in separate hotel rooms that will likely end up on different floors. So you start looking on a website like Airbnb or VRBO, where you hope to find a condo or house that will suit your whole family for the week.

This method of finding a short-term rental (STR) has only been common for about ten years. Such non-hotel vacation rentals have been available since the 1950s (mostly via newspaper ads), but they have really taken off with the growth of online booking platforms.

A STR assigns a house or condo to vacation renters who stay less than 30 days, often for a week or just a weekend. This removes a housing unit from the local housing stock available for people who work and want to live in the area, not just to visit on vacation.

The ease of use of the new online services has prompted more owners to test their entrepreneurial skills, especially in vacation destinations like Carpinteria. Some occasionally rented a spare bedroom, while others rented their entire house during their trip. Some have ended up jumping in with both feet and buying one or more condos or houses and setting them up as full time DOSs.

This part of the new “sharing economy” has provided business opportunities for some property owners as well as reservation services (including Airbnb and VRBO), property management companies, cleaning services and other support businesses. . But it also introduced far-reaching impacts on neighborhoods and entire communities.

Complaints about STRs are common from nearby neighbors regarding noise, parking, garbage, crime, and the peace in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, some short-term tenants have, well, a short-term attitude: “I’ll be gone in a few days, so I don’t care what the neighbors think.” “

But the less obvious impacts on the whole community are even greater. When a housing unit is converted to a short term rental for visitors, it is lost as a residence for people who wish to live in the community and would rent or buy that unit. Each STR unit therefore reduces the supply of available housing, primarily the smaller units that would have the most affordable long-term rental rates.

But it’s even worse. Even though the supply of available housing decreases, the same number of people still want to live here, so some are unable to find a place to live. Meanwhile, investors who want to create new DOSs are increasing the number of people looking for properties. The result of decreasing supply and increasing demand is that prices go up. People have a hard time finding a place available to rent or buy, and if they do, they find the prices surprisingly high.

To deal with these negative impacts on neighborhoods and the community, the city of Carpinteria instituted in 2017 regulations on STRs, including limits on the number of units authorized in different neighborhoods. Now the city is looking at possible regulatory updates based on what has been learned from the past few years.

Noteworthy data from the staff report on this issue for the September 13, 2021 city council meeting is that 78% of Carpinteria STR owners do not live in Santa Barbara County, many of whom are from out of state. . This means that over three quarters of Carpinteria’s STRs are reducing local housing stock by allowing out-of-county owners to rent our local property to out-of-town tourists!

In this column over the past two months, I have begun to explore the concern “My children will not be able to afford to live here.” The role that STRs play in this larger story is basic supply and demand: reducing the number of available homes means higher prices.

Over the next month or so, Carpinteria city council will continue discussions on possible changes to the city’s STR regulations. It will be up to the city council to weigh the interests of those who wish to use Carpinteria housing as a commercial investment against the impacts on the neighborhoods and the importance for this community to have a range of housing opportunities at the most affordable prices. possible.

The public’s contribution will be significant. If you think the affordability and availability of local housing is important, will you make your voice heard?

Mike Wondolowski is President of the Carpinteria Valley Association (CarpinteriaValleyAssociation.org), a local organization dedicated to maintaining the small seaside town nature of our community. In his 30 years of involvement in planning matters, he has witnessed visionary successes, as well as decisions that were later greatly regretted. When not stuck inside, it is often found enjoying the treasures of Carpinteria, including kayaking and snorkeling along the coast, running or hiking the cliffs or the Franklin Trail, or “vacation” as a tent camper at State Beach.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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