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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. 

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


This is a summary of draft Monterey County vacation rental ordinances dated June 10, 2020. 

Each owner/operator should know what local area plan affects their Vacation Rental. There are additional restrictions in some planning areas. For example, you may not know that Carmel Highlands and the unincorporated area near Carmel are both in the same planning area. To find your planning area, see the County maps showing Land Use Planning areas:

It is also important that you know if you are in the coastal or non-coastal area of the County. For example, part of Del Monte Forest is in the coastal zone and part is non-coastal. Go to:

First read the ordinance that affects all types of Vacation Rentals. See Exhibit C - Title 7 amendment to Ch. 7.02.060 and addition of Ch. 7.110

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:

     Coastal – See Exhibit D - Coastal Zoning Title 20 amendments and additions

     Non-coastal – See Exhibit E - Inland Zoning Title 21 amendments and additions


• Vacation Rentals are categorized in two categories: Limited Vacation Rentals and Commercial Vacation Rentals. The previous HomeStay category has been deleted.

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

• Discretionary Commercial Vacation Rental 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.

• Principal Residence requires that a natural person reside in the dwelling not less than 275 days per year confirmed by two forms of Principal Residence Documentation.

Requirements and Restrictions

• Requirements for all Vacation Rental categories:

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

     o Daytime occupancy headcount limited to 1.5 x overnight limit

     o Vehicle limits. The ordinances refer to County code 20.58 Regulations for Parking. This code requires 1 off-street space per guest room.

     o Dwelling requirements:

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

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

           Septic systems require a professional inspection report

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

     o Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are not allowed if there is an agreement/covenant restricting the unit to be affordable housing.

     o Rental contracts:

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

           Requires vehicle license plate numbers.

     o Advertising without a permit is prohibited.

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

• Limited Vacation Rentals restrictions:

     o Must be Principal Residence. Second homes will not be permitted as Limited Vacation Rentals.

     o Concurrently occupied by the Principal Resident during guest stay for all but three (3) stays per 12-month period.

     o Those (3) non-hosted stays are limited to a total duration of not more than sixty (60) days.

     o Not more than twenty (20) contracts per 12-month period.

     o Not more than a total of one hundred forty (140) days per 12-month period.

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

     o No more than two (2) bedrooms may be rented regardless of the total number of bedrooms in the dwelling.

     o Restricted to 2 people per bedroom with no allowance for children or infants for a maximum of 4 guests.

     o Del Monte Forest – Limited Vacation Rentals will not be allowed.

• Commercial Vacation Rental Requirements:

     o A Residential Property that meets one or more of the following criteria:

          1. Rented as a vacation rental more than three (3) times per 12-month period while not concurrently occupied by the Principal Resident;

         2. Rented as a vacation rental for more than twenty (20) times per 12-month period while concurrently occupied by the Principal Resident;

         3. Rented as a vacation rental for more than a total of one hundred forty (140) days per 12- month period;

        4. Makes three (3) or more bedrooms available for rent as a vacation rental.

     o In addition to permits and registration listed above, Commercial Vacation Rentals require a use permit or a coastal development permit (CDP)

     o Only one Commercial Vacation Rental permit will be granted per property and per multi-unit building.

     o Additional local area restrictions on Commercial Vacation Rentals:

           Big Sur - A Commercial Vacation Rental shall not be allowable. .

           Carmel Area/Carmel Highlands -A Commercial Vacation Rental shall not be allowable in the low density residential zone

           Del Monte Forest - A Commercial Vacation Rental shall not be allowable

     o Restricted to 2 people per bedroom with no allowance for children or infants for a maximum of 10 guests.

     o Commercial Rentals not accessible directly from a public road is subject to regulations similar to 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 Count Limits

     o Vacation Rentals are subject to VSU limits in Carmel Valley, Carmel Area (including Carmel Highlands) and in the Moss Landing Community

• Homeowner Associations and Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions (CC&Rs)

     o Applicants must acknowledge that they have investigated and to their knowledge are not subject to homeowner association (HOA) rules, CC&Rs, or other rules that prohibit the vacation rental use of the property. If a permit is granted on false material information (willful or negligent), the permit could be subject to revocation or modification.

• Agriculture and Grazing Zones

     o Both Limited and Commercial Vacation Rentals are permitted provided a Property Manager or Principal Resident will concurrently reside on the property during the stay.

Phasing Out Existing Unpermitted Vacation Rentals

• The Owner must establish “prior Vacation Rental 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 Vacation Rental 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.


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.