Vacation Rental Regulation

Summary and Current Status:Vacation Rental Property

The City Council adopted regulations prohibiting new vacation rentals on December 4, 2017, and the effective date of the new ordinance was thirty days after adoption.  Existing, licensed vacation rentals are allowed to continue, provided they meet the updated operating standards.  View the list of existing approved (legal) vacation rentals.  (Note to visitors:  there are also several approved Bed and Breakfast Inns in the City of Sonoma. View the list of approved (legal) B&Bs here).

Under the new ordinance, vacation rentals are no longer a conditionally-permitted use in the Mixed Use and Commercial zones (new vacation rentals were already prohibited in residential zones).  An exception provides that new applications for vacation rentals are limited to those involving the adaptive re-use of a historic structure.

In addition, the ordinance established updated operating standards, which apply to all vacation rentals.  The major new provisions are as follows:

  1.   Occupancy Limits /Maximum Overnight Occupancy. Maximum overnight occupancy for vacation rentals is limited to up to a maximum of two persons per sleeping room or guestroom, plus two additional persons per unit.
  2.   Noise Limits. A prohibition on outdoor amplified sound is imposed.
  3.   Property Manager. A requirement is established for a property manager, with contact information to be provided to the City.
  4.   Requirements for Internet Advertisements and Listings. To simplify enforcement of illegal vacation rentals, online advertisements and/or listings for the vacation rental properties are required to include a Business License or Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate number.
  5.   Inspection Fee. To recover the costs of ensuring that the operational requirements are met, an allowance for an annual inspection fee could be established. The ordinance does not in and of itself establish a fee. It simply provides for that option as a subsequent action if the City Council so desires.

To report an illegal rental or other violation of the vacation rental ordinance, contact Code Enforcement.

 

Background/Process:

October 2016. The City Council unanimously adopted an interim moratorium ordinance on the approval of new applications for vacation rentals while changes to the regulations are discussed and implemented.

November 21, 2016. The City Council reviewed and discussed a report setting forth the existing regulations pertaining to vacation rentals.

May 11, 2017. The Planning Commission held a session on vacation rentals, focusing on permitting issues and options.

June 8, 2017. The Planning Commission held a session on vacation rentals, focusing on operational issues and options.

June 19, 2017. The City Council received the information and recommendations developed by the Planning Commission and gave direction as to its preferences with respect to an ordinance updating the regulations pertaining to vacation rentals.

September 14, 2017. The Planning Commission reviewed a draft ordinance setting forth updated permitting allowances and operational requirements for vacation rentals.

October 2, 2017. The City Council adopted a second extension of the interim moratorium ordinance on vacation rentals.

November 20, 2017. The City Council reviewed the draft ordinance as recommended by the Planning Commission. After holding a public hearing and discussion the matter, the City Council voted 5-0 to introduce the ordinance.

December 4, 2017.  The second reading of the ordinance was approved.

For more information, contact the Planning Department.

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