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Vacation Rental Permit

Vacation Rental Ordinance Update

On August 2, 2022, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved updates to the Vacation Rental Ordinance, including:

  • a prohibition on new vacation rentals in R1-zoned (low-density residential) areas,
  • allowing for caps to be placed on vacation rentals in areas of concentration,
  • establishing restrictions on corporate ownership of vacation rentals,
  • limit Vacation Rental Licenses to one license per property owner,
  • and incorporating the Vacation Rental Licenses and performance standards in Local Coastal Plan for rentals in the Coastal Zone.

The moratorium on new vacation rental permit applications that has been in place since May 10 is set to continue, potentially through May 9, 2023. Applications that were submitted prior to May 10, 2022, will be able to move forward under the regulations at the time of submittal.

Note: Existing vacation rentals will not be affected by the ownership or zoning changes.

Vacation rentals are the rental of a private residence for periods of 30 days or less. 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 Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Vacation rentals must have a Certified Vacation Property Manager and meet Performance Standards to ensure compatibility with surrounding residential uses.

Coastal Zone: The Vacation Rental Ordinance Update has not been certified by the California Coastal Commission and is not applicable to rentals in the Coastal Zone. However, the owners of Coastal Zone vacation rentals must register to pay Transient Occupancy Tax.

Vacation Rentals vs. Hosted Rentals

Find out which situation applies to your property.

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Where are Vacation Rentals Allowed?

Vacation rentals are allowed (with permit) in the following locations:

  • In homes in single-family residential zoning districts (AR and RR)
  • In existing single-family residences in the LC zoning district
  • Agricultural and resource zones including LEA, DA, and RRD (except for lands within an Agricultural Preserve that are subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract)

Vacation rentals are not allowed in the following locations:

  • The Low Density Residential zone (R1)
  • Higher-density residential districts (R2, R3, PC)
  • Lands within an Agricultural Preserve that is subject to a Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) Contract
  • Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) zoned properties
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (previously known as Second Dwelling Units)
  • Farm Family, Agricultural Employee, or Farmworker housing units
  • Non-habitable structures
  • Areas designated (e.g. the Exclusion (X) Combining District)
  • Areas within the burn zones of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fire and the 2019 Kincade Fire 

If you are unsure of what your zoning is, please consult Permit Sonoma's Official Zoning Database.

Apply for a Vacation Rental Permit

Vacation Rental Application Forms

A complete application shall include the following items. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. All forms listed must be filled out completely (no blank spaces). 

Note: All documents must be submitted electronically. Permit Sonoma staff may, upon request, provide some assistance with electronic submittal if required. 

Submit Electronic Applications
  1. Application Forms:
    1. PJR-001 Planning Application (PDF: 180 kB), signed by the applicant and property owner(s).
    2. PJR-011 Indemnification Agreement (PDF: 132 kB), signed by owner or agent with owner’s written authorization. A separate indemnification agreement must be signed by each property owner.
    3. PJR-096 Vacation Rentals Application (PDF: 56 kB)
    4. PJR-119 Property Report Checklist (PDF: 151 kB)
  2. Site plan meeting the requirements of PJR-129, Site Plan Requirements for Planning Applications, and clearly identifying all structures on the property and their uses; the access to the property (public road, private road, driveway); the proposed parking; and any outdoor areas that will be made available as part of the Vacation Rental (pool, spa, etc.). 
  3. Floor plan, identifying all rooms in the home or structures, including the number and location of guest rooms to be used as a part of the Vacation Rental. Exits must be clearly shown. 
  4. If vacation rental is to be served by a septic system, provide proof of septic capacity. Applicants may need to see visit the Permit Sonoma Records Division for this documentation. 
  5. Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) Registration Form (choose the appropriate one):
    1. Registration Form for Owner-Operated Rentals (PDF)
    2. Registration Form for Property Managers (PDF)
  6. Filing fee. See the current Permit Sonoma Project Review Fee Schedule. Fees will be determined once the full scope of a project is evaluated by Permit Sonoma staff at the time of application submittal. If paying by check, please do not fill in amounts on checks prior to application acceptance. 

Certified Property Manager Requirement
All new vacation rental permits are required to provide the 24-hour contact information of a property manager who has already passed the property manager certification exam and paid the fee.

Vacation Rental Permit Fees

All fees must be paid to obtain a permit. Staff will assess fees and provide an invoice.

  • 1166 – Zoning Permit Level II Fee
  • 1163 – Annual Monitoring Fee (prorated by quarter)
  • 0140 – Tech Enhancement Fee Tier Type II

View Fee Schedule for Fee Amounts

Additional Vacation Rental Fees

  • 1163 – Annual Monitoring Fee
    Recurring fee paid by the vacation rental owner per property
  • 1164 – Property Manager Certification Fee
    One-time fee paid by the Property Manager when obtaining certification from Permit Sonoma
  • 1162 – Noticing Fee
    Paid by the vacation rental owner when changing the Property Manager for a vacation rental property (for notifying neighbors of the change)

View Fee Schedule for Fee Amounts

Cessation of Vacation Rental Use

Vacation Rental Zoning Permits and Hosted Rental Zoning Permits expire automatically upon the sale or transfer of a vacation rental or hosted rental property. Property owners who have sold their property should also let Permit Sonoma know as soon as possible in order to not be held liable for any vacation rental or hosted rental use of the property once it has been sold.

This form should be completed and submitted in all cases where the home is no longer being used as a vacation rental or hosted rental.

Fill out the Affidavit of Cessation of Vacation Rental or Hosted Rental Use (PDF: 158 kB) and follow the instructions on the form for submission.