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For Immediate Release

Board of Supervisors votes to change vacation rental regulations and rules for timeshares

SANTA ROSA, CA | April 24, 2023

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today voted to change vacation rental regulations, create caps and exclusion zones for vacation rentals and to define fractionally owned housing as timeshares. The first action involved creating a business license program that standardizes operating requirements for vacation rentals to protect neighbors from nuisances, while the second action placed caps and exclusion zones in specific neighborhoods in the first, fourth and fifth supervisorial districts to reduce over-concentration of vacation rentals in these areas. A third vote in the afternoon amended zoning code to clarify regulations for timeshares and short-term use of fractionally owned residential properties.

The business license program will establish standards that:

  • Limit vacation rental occupancy based on number of bedroom or septic capacity, with a maximum occupancy of 12 guests regardless of the size of the home
  • Establish standards for parking areas and limit use of on-street parking to a single space
  • Establish limits for noise and light
  • Require a written evacuation plan and require evacuation whenever a warning is issued
  • Require complaints to be resolved within 30 minutes in the evening and within one hour during the day
  • Require vacation rental properties to meet requirements for defensible space
  • Prohibit outdoor burning of solid fuel
  • Require notifying neighbors when the annual Vacation Rental License is renewed
  • Limit licenses to one per person and limits ownership to natural persons or family trusts – no LLC or corporate ownership.

When combined with the complaint hotline that Permit Sonoma launched last year, the license program provides additional enforcement tools that will expedite enforcement and allow proportional measures to be applied to violations.

With a Vacation Rentals Moratorium due to expire on May 9, the Board of Supervisors voted to expedite rezoning to place caps and exclusion zones on neighborhoods with high concentrations of vacation rentals.

Communities with new caps placed on the number of vacation rental permits include Fitch Mountain outside of Healdsburg, Hughes Chicken Colony near Sonoma and Austin Creek near Guernewood, among others. 

For more information, including an interactive map showing where zoning changes were voted upon, go to the Vacation Rental Program webpage.

“With these new regulations and the cap and exclusion zones, we’re taking steps to mitigate the impacts of short-term rentals upon neighborhoods adversely affected by vacation rentals in Sonoma County,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, chair of the Board of Supervisors.

After today’s vote, this item will return for a second reading before the board, and if approved, would go into effect 30 days later.

The neighborhood caps, and whether other communities not mapped in 2020 should have caps, will be reexamined starting in late summer 2023.

Community outreach meetings will be scheduled countywide starting with meetings in Guerneville, Monte Rio and Forestville, which are planned for July and August. At these meetings, Permit Sonoma will gather feedback at the neighborhood level and tailor restrictions to individual neighborhoods. Feedback from those meetings will help Permit Sonoma determine if restrictions should be changed further.

In the afternoon, the board also voted to define the short-term use of a fractionally owned residence as a timeshare use, which is only allowed within the recreation and visitor serving ("K") zoning district, preserving housing for long-term residents and limiting commercial, visitor-serving land uses in residential areas.

It’s important to note that we’re not banning timeshares,” said Coursey. “We’re recognizing them as commercial enterprises and those belong in specific visitor-serving areas.”

Media Contacts: 
Bradley Dunn, Permit Sonoma Policy Manager
(707) 321-0502
2550 Ventura Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Stuart Tiffen, Communications Specialist
(707) 565-1860
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403