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Santa Cruz County Vacation Rental Ordinance

After a months-long moratorium, Santa Cruz County has finally finished rewriting their amendments to the short term rental ordinance. Here's what you need to know about the new rules, effective as of 2021.*

*Please note these rules only apply to residences in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County including but not limited to: Soquel, Aptos, Live Oak, Pleasure Point, Prospect Heights, Seacliff, Rio Del Mar, Happy Valley, San Lorenzo Valley, Bonny Doon, Davenport, and La Selva Beach. Homes located within the Cities of Santa Cruz City and Capitola still fall under the ordinances for those jurisdictions.

The County has created three "Designated Areas" along the coast, each with its own cap on the total number of short term rental permits allowed in those areas. All three Designated Areas are currently already at capacity, with waitlists for new permits. The three designated areas are:

  • Live Oak Designated Area (LODA): This includes the Yacht Harbor Special Community and that portion of Live Oak that lies east and south of East Cliff Drive and Portola Drive from the intersection of 9th Avenue and East Cliff Drive to the intersection of Portola Drive and 41st Avenue

  • Seacliff/Aptos/La Selva Beach Designated Area (SALSDA): This includes the Aptos Planning Area bounded on the west by the Capitola city limit, on the north by Highway 1, and on the east and southeast by Bonita Drive, San Andreas Road, the Urban Services Line from San Andreas Road to Monterey Bay, and the community of La Selva Beach.

  • Davenport/Swanton Designated Area (DASDA): This includes the North Coast Planning Area bounded on the south by Riverside Ave and San Vincente Street in the unincorporated town of Davenport, and extending north along Highway 1 to include the areas of New Town and Davenport Landing south of Highway 1, and bounded on the north by the intersection of Swanton Road and Highway 1, and including all parcels within one-quarter mile of Swanton Road, but excluding any parcels that abut Last Chance Road.

In addition to the cap on total number of allowed short term rental permits in each area, there is also a maximum cap of 20% per block. This means that just because a spot opens up on the waitlist, the permit may not automatically be granted if there are already too many short term rental permits on the block. You can check the map of existing vacation rentals here. Vacation rental permits do not convey/transfer upon the sale of a property with an existing permit.

There are three categories of permits for short term rentals:

1) Vacation Rental Permit for an entire home. Important note - vacation rental permits are NOT allowed on properties that have Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Vacation rental permits are good for 5 years.

2) Hosted Rentals are short-term rentals of one or two bedrooms in a home where the owner will stay on site during the rental. There is a cap of 250 total permits for the County as well as limits on permits for specific beach neighborhoods. No more hosted rental permits are currently available. Hosted rental permits are good for 5 years.

3) Bed and Breakfasts are hosted short-term rental of three to five rooms in a home where the owner will stay on site during the rental. Bed and breakfast inns are currently permitted in the RA, RR, R-1, and RM Zone Districts. They are not allowed in the Beach Residential (RB) zone district.

OUTSIDE OF THE DESIGNATED AREAS THERE IS STILL A TOTAL CAP AND BLOCK CAP, BUT PERMITS CURRENTLY REMAIN AVAILABLE FOR NON-HOSTED RENTALS! Also, there are certain areas that are NOT limited on the number of vacation rental permits allowed, this includes Beach Drive in Aptos, the condominiums on Rio Del Mar Blvd above Beach Drive, and specific areas of Capitola Village shown on this map.

Click here to apply for a vacation rental permit or get on the waitlist for your area.

Questions? We are here to help, and if we don't know the answer we will find it! Call/text Ace anytime at 831.419.5852 or email at

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