COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Shelter-In-Place Order and Short-Term Rentals

The County of Santa Cruz Order, effective at 11:59pm on 6/12/20 removes lodging restrictions previously in place. From this point forward, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, RV parks, campground, and any other short-term lodging businesses may resume operations, including for purposes of tourism, consistent  with State Shelter Orders and industry sector guidance. Visit the County Public Health Officer web page to read the full order. 

City of Santa Cruz Short-Term Rental Permit Application

The City’s Residential Short-Term Rental Ordinance (Chapter 24.12, Part 18 of City's Municipal Code) is in effect. 

All owners of Short-Term Rental (STR) units are required to obtain a STR permit and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Certificate to use their property for STR purposes.  A total of 250 owner-occupied/hosted STR permits are available on a first come, first served basis. There are a limited number of hosted STR permits still available. 


The City will not be issuing any new Non-Hosted/non-owner occupied STR permits or Accessory Dwelling Unit STR permits.


How Do I Apply?

Online applications are quick and easy, and applications made through the City’s online system are encouraged.  To start your online application, please visit:  Click on “Apply for TOT Certification” to create an account.  Applicants will be required to pay a one-time, non-refundable Permit fee, found in the Planning Fee Schedule, at the time of application submittal, and existing STR operators will be issued a new TOT Certificate number as a part of this process.

For those applicants unable to use our online application, paper applications will also be accepted using a printable PDF version of the application. Paper applications will also be available at the Planning Department Public Counter at City Hall.

Applicants who wish to submit a complete paper application may apply by mail or do so in person at City Hall during regular business hours.

Required Documents

Applicants will need to supply the following materials as a part of their application.  Please note that while these items do not need to be drawn by a professional, they must be drawn to scale:

  1. Plot Plan: Also known as a site plan, this attachment must show the location of all existing buildings on the property, the location of or structure containing the STR, and the location and dimensions of all on-site parking, including garages.
  2. Floor Plan: The floorplan should show and label all rooms in the house and identify which rooms, or whether the whole house, will be used for the short-term rental.
  3. Photograph:  This attachment must be a clear, color photograph of the outside of the unit.  Photo must include visible building address number.
  4. Proof of Principal Residency: Owners of Hosted STR’s must provide at least two forms of documented evidence that the unit is the owner’s principal residence, such as state and federal tax returns, bank account, car registration, driver’s license, voter registration, utility bill, and evidence of Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Homeowners Exemption.

In advance of permit issuance, applicants will also be required to enroll in the City’s Rental Inspection Service (RIS).  The current RIS fee can be found in the Planning Fee Schedule, and is paid annually by the applicant.  More information on the RIS program may be found on the Residential Rental Services page

What is the Short Term Rental Ordinance?

The Short-Term Rental Ordinance (Ordinance) provides a set of standards governing the renting or leasing of residential property on a short-term basis.  The intent of the Ordinance is to allow short-term rental of residential properties within the City while protecting the City’s long-term housing stock.  The Ordinance also ensures that Short-Term Rentals (STRs) do not become a nuisance to the community, or threaten the public’s health, safety or welfare.  The Ordinance requires the issuance of a Residential Short-Term Rental Permit (Permit) before a homeowner may operate an STR.

Am I Eligible to Apply for an STR Permit?

The City is not issuing new Non-Hosted/non-owner occupied STR permits or Accessory Dwelling Unit STR permits.

The Ordinance distinguishes between HOSTED and NON-HOSTED STRs, as follows:


HOSTED is defined as an STR where the owner lives in the home for more than 6 months per year, although the owner does not need to be present during the STR guests’ stay.  For duplex and multi-family properties, the ordinance also allows an owner to utilize one unit on site for STR purposes as long as the owner resides at another unit on the property for more than six months per year.  


NON-HOSTED is defined as an STR where the owner does not live in the home or lives in the home for less than 6 months per year.

The City will not be issuing new NON-HOSTED STR permits.  However, there are several existing, legally permitted and operating NON-HOSTED STRs that will be allowed to continue under the ordinance.

What about Properties with Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?

The STR ordinance does not allow STRs in ADUs OR on properties that have an ADU, and no new ADU STR permits will be issued.  However, the City does have several existing, legally-operating ADU STRs that were allowed to continue when the STR Ordinance was adopted. 

Hosting Platforms

Internet providers of vacation rental services, such as AirBNB, VRBO, etc., must follow the City's Administrative Guidelines for Short-Term Rental Hosting Platforms. 


For questions related to the Short-Term Rental Permit, please contact: 

Sherman, BryannaAssociate PlannerPlanning and Community Development(831) 420-5129

For Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Questions:

For questions related to TOT, please visit the City's TOT webpage, or contact the Revenue Division of the Finance Department: (831) 420-5070.