Sonoma County updates vacation rental ordinance  

Posted on August 3, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has approved updates to the Vacation Rental Ordinance, including a ban on new vacation rentals in low-density residential areas and establishing restrictions on corporate ownership.

Existing vacation rentals will not be affected by the ownership or zoning changes voted on today. Vacation rentals are defined as the rental of a private residence for periods of 30 days or less.

In addition to prohibiting new vacation rentals in R1, the board also voted to allow for establishing limits on new vacation rentals in areas of concentration. These caps would effectively reduce the number of vacation rentals over time as the permits would cease upon sale of the properties.

The board also voted to restrict the ability to hold future vacation rental permits to “natural persons” or trusts, rather than corporate entities. Individuals or trusts may only hold one vacation rental permit at a time.

The board voted to include the Local Coastal Plan in the county’s Vacation Rental Program, requiring vacation rental licenses for those in the Coastal Zone. Any new requirements for the Vacation Rental Program in the Coastal Zone will need to be certified by the California Coastal Commission before taking effect.

The moratorium on new vacation rental permit applications that has been in place since May is set to continue, potentially through May 9, 2023. The Board of Supervisors also gave staff direction to come back with a separate ordinance addressing new licensing procedures for new vacation rentals, including increasing penalties for property owners who violate the vacation rental guidelines.

On May 5, 2022, the Sonoma County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt Permit Sonoma’s proposed Sonoma County Code amendments for vacation rentals, most of which were adopted.

The updates to the ordinance reflect direction from the Planning Commission and input from members of the public. Permit Sonoma staff held more than 20 meetings, including with every Municipal Advisory Council in the county, did outreach in conjunction with Sonoma County’s Housing Element Update, and held extensive meetings with stakeholder and industry groups.

Vacation Rentals do not include bed and breakfast inns or hosted rentals permitted in accordance with the Sonoma County Code for B&Bs and hosted rentals or occasional home exchanges that are not otherwise subject to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

For more information about vacation rentals in Sonoma County visit the Vacation Rental Update project website.

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