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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. Use the maps below to determine if you are in the coastal zone or an inland area:

Another method to determine if your home is in the coastal zone is to click on the County Lookup Zoning map and type in your address. Your home is in the coastal zone if the Zoning displays "CZ." Otherwise your home is NOT in the coastal zone.


Monterey County has an ordinance regulating STRs in the non-coastal areas. The permit fee is almost $8,000, the application is burdensome, and the process may take many months. If the owner obtains a permit, he/she may rent for periods of 7 days or more. Any unpermitted STR in a non-coastal region is subject to citation and fines.

In the coastal zone, Monterey County does not have an ordinance regulating STRs, but in July 2015, the County released a memorandum officially stating its “interpretation” that, if STRs are not specifically permitted by ordinance, they are prohibited. After the Coastal Commission objected to this interpretation, the County claimed that STR owners could get a "similar use" BnB permit. However, BnB's require that the owner is present during the guest stay. Thus every second home operating as a non-hosted STR in the coastal zone is considered "illegal." Similar use BnB permits are available to hosted coastal STRs, but the permit cost is prohibitively high at $14,000. No such permit has been granted so the County considered every STR in the coastal zone to be illegal and subject to citation and fines. 

For years, enforcement in both coastal and non-coastal areas was reactive and only occurred if a neighbor complained. But in December 2021, the County announced a plan to intensify its enforcement with a proactive policy. No nuisance complaint is needed. Click here for the shocking details.

For more information on Monterey County's long, inconsistent history of policy changes, click here.

Summary of the Latest Draft Monterey County Vacation Rental Ordinances

By the Monterey County Vacation Rental Alliance

August 11, 2022

Monterey County has slowly developed draft vacation rental (STR) ordinances. These ordinances are NOT final. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors (the BOS or the Board) has held two hearings on drafts of the ordinances. Your MCVRA directors have summarized the key points of the most recent draft ordinances dated June 6, 2022. If your STR is in an unincorporated area of Monterey County, your home is subject to County regulations. Every short-term rental (a.k.a. vacation rental) owner and operator should understand the draft ordinances.

The unincorporated inland and coastal regions of Monterey County have different regulations. For example, part of the Del Monte Forest Planning Area is in the coastal zone and part is non-coastal. If you do not know if you are in a coastal or non-coastal area of the County, go to:

Enter your address. If the zoning ends with “CZ”, you are in the coastal zone. Otherwise, you are in a non-coastal, inland area.

Regulations or restrictions also may be different in some County planning areas. To determine which planning area pertains to your home, go to:

Find your location on one of the maps at the bottom of the page. The title of the map names the planning area.

Updated Draft Monterey County Vacation Rental Ordinances

STR Definitions

     • STRs are defined in two categories: Limited Vacation Rentals (LVRs) and Commercial Vacation Rentals (CVRs).

     • A newly defined ministerial Vacation Rental Operation Permit (VROP) will be good for 12 months and must be renewed annually.

     • Costly CVR use permits and coastal development permits (CDPs) are discretionary, will be good for 7 years, and can be renewed.

Requirements for all Vacation Rental categories:

     • Confirmation that the proposed vacation rental does not violate any applicable CC&Rs. Any affected homeowners' association will be put on notice of the application.

     • A Vacation Rental Operation Permit (VROP), a business license, and registration with the tax collector.

     • Night time occupancy not to exceed two (2) persons per bedroom and not to exceed a total count of ten (10) persons per unit, no matter how many bedrooms. Daytime occupancy headcount limited to 1.5 x overnight limit.

     • Dwelling requirements:

          o Vacation rentals will be allowed in permitted structures, but not in temporary structures, yurts, RVs, and trailers.

          o Private water systems serving less than 200 users must submit a water quality test report

          o Septic systems require a professional inspection report

     • An inspection report to ensure the property is safe and habitable including adequate egress, fire extinguishers, and a carbon monoxide alarm

     • Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will not be permitted.

     • Rental contracts:

          o Require an email address for the “lead” guest.

          o Requires vehicle license plate numbers.

          o Not more than one (1) contract at a time. So separate bedrooms could not be rented simultaneously to different guests.

     • Advertising without a permit is prohibited.

     • Local contact must be able to arrive at the site within 30 minutes

     • Agriculture and Grazing Zones

          o Both LVRs and CVRs are permitted provided a Property Manager or Principal Resident will concurrently reside on the property during the stay.

Limited Vacation Rental (LVR) Requirements:

     • Need not be Principal Residence.

     • No requirement for the owner/operator to be present during guest stays. Second homes could be permitted as LVRs and all the bedrooms can be rented.

     • Only three (3) contracts allowed per year. This allows rentals for the major events such as the golf tournament and car week.

     • Each stay is limited to a total duration of not more than fourteen (14) days.


Commercial Vacation Rental (CVR) Requirements:

     • Any STR that does not meet the LVR restrictions would be a CVR.

     • In addition to permits and registration listed above, CVRs require a use permit or a coastal development permit (CDP)

     • Permitted CVRs can rent without limit.

     • Only one CVR permit will be granted per property.

     • Additional local area restrictions on CVRs:

          o Big Sur - CVRs shall not be allowable.

          o Carmel Area - CVRs shall not be allowable in the low density residential zone (Carmel Highlands)

     • CVRs not accessible directly from a public road are subject to the regulations of Monterey County Code Section 21.64.320, Regulations Relating to Applications Involving Use of Private Roads. A single neighbor on the private road can cause denial of a permit.

Visitor Serving Unit Limits and STR Caps. STRs will not be counted as visitor serving units subject to limits that may exist in some planning areas such as Carmel Valley. STRs will be counted as a separate category, and permitted STRs will be limited to no more than 6% of all housing stock in each planning area. This will allow most existing STRs to be permitted provided they meet other ordinance restrictions.

To read the full details of the January 6, 2022 draft ordinances, see below.

First read the ordinance that affects all types of Vacation Rentals. See

Attachment A - Draft ordinance amending Title 7 to amend Section 7.02.060

There is a separate draft ordinance for coastal and non-coastal areas and the permit requirements are different. Go to the ordinance that affects you:

Attachment B - Draft ordinance amending Title 20 (Coastal Zoning)

Attachment C - Draft ordinance amending Title 21 (Inland Zoning)


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.