Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance

Supporting Visitors, the Economy & our Neighborhoods

Monterey County Regulation


If your STR is in an unincorporated area of Monterey County, your home is subject to County regulation. The unincorporated inland and coastal regions of Monterey County have different regulations. 

Is your property in the coastal or inland region? Go to Enter the property address or APN and click on Search. Then click on the numeric Parcel Number. If the property zoning information ends in “(CZ)” the property is in the Coastal Zone; otherwise the property is in the Non-Coastal/Inland Zone.

You can look at other areas of the County to determine the coastal zone or the inland areas using the following links:


The inland region of the County of Monterey has a regulation controlling STRs, but the permit fee is very high and the process to get the permit is lengthy and burdensome. The permit cost is about $6,000 and the process may take months. If the owner obtains a permit, he may rent for any period of 7 days or more. Any unpermitted STR in the inland region is subject to citation and fines.

An STR in the coastal region of the County is now prohibited and subject to citation and fines. In the coastal zone there is no County ordinance that permits STRs but there is also no County ordinance that specifically prohibits STRs. However in July 2015, the County released a memorandum officially stating its “interpretation” that, if STRs are not specifically permitted by ordinance, they are prohibited.

Click here for Monterey County's regulation history and current regulations


Newly Released Draft Monterey County Ordinances

On April 19, 2019 the County released updated draft ordinances for public review. Every short-term rental (STR) owner and operator should read two new ordinances. Start with the ordinance that affects all types of STRs:

Each owner/operator should know what local area plan affects their STR. There are additional restrictions in some planning areas. To find your planning area, see the County maps showing Land Use Planning areas:

There is a separate draft ordinance for each of these areas and the STR permit requirements are different. Go to the ordinance that affects you:



MCVRA has summarized the draft ordinances as shown below.

STR Definitions

  • STRs are categorized as:
    • Homestays where a bedroom(s) is/are rented
    • Limited STRs with four or fewer bookings per year
    • Commercial STRs with five or more bookings per year.
  • A newly defined ministerial Vacation Rental Operation Permit (VROP).
    • VROPs are good for 12 months and must be renewed annually.
  • Discretionary use permits and coastal development permits (CDPs) initially granted for a 5 year period and then renewable for up to two additional 5 year periods. After 15 years, a new application is required for a new use permit or CDP.
  • Commercial STRs, regardless of number of bedrooms, count as one visitor serving unit (VSU)

Requirements and Restrictions

  • Requirements for all STR categories:
    • A Vacation Rental Operation Permit (VROP), a business license, and registration with the tax collector.
    • Occupancy:
      • Limited to 2 people per bedroom with no allowance for children or infants
      • Maximum 10 people regardless of house size
      • Daytime headcount limited to 1.5 x overnight limit
    • Vehicle limits. The ordinances refer to County code 20.58 Regulations for Parking. This code requires 1 off-street space per guest room.
    • Dwelling requirements:
      • Must be a permitted structure
      • Private water systems serving less than 200 users must submit a water quality test report
      • Septic systems require a professional inspection report
      • An inspection report is required to ensure the property is safe and habitable including adequate egress, fire extinguishers, and a carbon monoxide alarm
    • Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are not allowed if there is an agreement/covenant restricting the unit to be affordable housing.
    • Rental contracts:
      • Require an email address for the “lead” guest.
      • Requires vehicle license plate numbers.
    • Advertising without a permit is prohibited.
    • Local contact must be able to arrive at the site within 30 minutes
  • Homestay restrictions:
    • Primary Resident must be present during the stay.
    • Only one contract at a time. So two shared bedrooms could not have two separate contracts with different guests.
  • Requirements for Commercial STRs:
    • In addition to permits and registration listed above, Commercial STRs require a use permit or a coastal development permit (CDP)
    • Only one Commercial STR permit will be granted per property and per multi-unit building.
    • Additional local area restrictions on Commercial STRs:
      • Not be permitted in Big Sur and the coastal area of Del Monte Forest.
      • Are subject to VSU limits in Carmel Valley and in the Moss Landing Community

Phasing Out Existing Unpermitted STRs

  • The Owner must establish “prior STR operating” by providing at least one (1) contract in each of three (3) of the five (5) years preceding April 1, 2019
  • And evidence of a reservation entered into prior to April 1, 2019 for stay on or after April 1, 2019.
  • The Owner must provide a copy of Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate issued by the County.
  • If the above requirements are met, the STR will be allowed to continue for up to one (1) year from the 30 days after the ordinance is adopted (Effective Date), or until County takes action on applications for all required permits, licenses, and entitlements, whichever is later.
  • If any of the required permits, licenses, and entitlements made is denied by the County one year or later from the Effective Date, the rental operation must cease within 30 days of receiving written notice from the County of such denial.

Email Your Letters to Monterey County!!

The County is currently accepting public comments on these ordinances. A Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for July 24, 2019. Plan to attend the meeting.

We strongly urge owners to write to Monterey County. Express:

  • Your opinion on the regulations and restrictions. Ask for specific changes to be made.
  • How these draft ordinances will greatly impact STRs as a lodging option for visitors.
  • Why you rent your home to visitors. Why visitors choose a home versus a hotel.
  • That you would never offer your home as a long-term rental since you want to use it yourself.

Then email your letter to: [email protected]

Or even easier, go to our petition page to sign the petition and add an optional personal message. 


MCVRA along with the architects' and realtors' associations worked with the County Planning Department to create a Proof of Access ordinance affecting private roads. On August 26, 2014 the County Board of Supervisors approved two Proof of Access ordinances. The ordinances are not everything we hoped for. If your vacation rental is on a private road, including a private road owned and managed by a homeowners association, these ordinances may affect you when you apply for a vacation rental permit in the future. You will need to establish that you and your guests have the right of access.

The County will rely on written agreements such as a private road agreement, a private road maintenance agreement, or your homeowner’s association governing documentation. These, if they exist, may establish your right of access. If vacation rental use conflicts with these documents or if no documentation exists, you must get written concurrence of every easement holder on the road. Click here for a link to the ordinances. The inland version was adopted; the coastal version was submitted to the Coastal Commission but rejected and has not been implemented in the coastal zone. If your vacation rental is on a private road, we suggest you contact MCVRA before applying for a vacation rental permit.