Temporary Rental Unit Ordinance FAQs

Short-Term Rentals and Homeshares Frequently Asked Questions

New Regulations

The Board of Supervisors has recently adopted zoning ordinance amendments to establish regulations for temporary rental units within unincorporated Ventura County.  On June 12, 2018, the Board adopted amendments to the Coastal Zoning Ordinance, which establishes regulations for Temporary Rental Units (TRUs) within the coastal zone (click here to see a full copy).  On June19, 2018, the Board adopted amendments to the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance establishing TRU regulations for the remainder of the unincorporated county area (click here to see a full copy).  While the two amendments share many of the same requirements and standards, there are some significant differences between the two.  Each are described in detail below.

Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO)

With the adoption of the NCZO amendments, the County has established clear definitions for two types of TRUs: Short-term Rentals (STRs) and Homeshares.  Both are defined as dwellings that are rented for a period less than 30 days.  However, a homeshare must be the owner’s primary residence and the owner must be present in the dwelling while it is being rented.  Owners of STRs need not be present when renting out the dwelling.

The adopted ordinance amendments established a TRU Regulation Overlay Zone.  The boundaries of that zone are the same as the boundaries of the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Committee (click here to see a map).   All STRs and Homeshares operated in the non-coastal unincorporated areas outside of the Overlay Zone are exempt from the requirements of the ordinance.

A comprehensive set of operating requirements and performance standards have been established within the TRU Regulation Overlay Zone.  The following is a summary of some of the most notable regulations and standards within the proposed amendments:

  • Establishes definitions for “short-term rental” and “homeshare”, and identifies them as accessory uses to dwellings.
  • Requires that a “homeshare” be the owner’s primary residence, and that the owner be physically present in the same dwelling as the short-term renter (i.e. rental of a separate cottage or structure is prohibited).
  • Prohibits Short-term Rentals (STRs); Homeshares are allowed with a land use permit (zoning clearance), which must be obtained annually.
  • Creates an exception that allows the permitting of STRs on currently designated historic landmark properties.
  • Establishes ownership requirements and limitations (e.g. only property owners can obtain a permit, permits expire upon change of ownership, only one TRU per owner).
  • Defines ineligible dwellings (e.g. permitted accessory dwelling units, affordable/ caretaker/farmworker units).
  • Establishes a two-year “grace period” for existing TRU uses which do not meet eligibility requirements.
  • Sets overnight occupancy limits for homeshares at tewo bedrooms and a maximum of five persons.
  • Sets overnight occupancy limits for STRs operating during the grace period at two persons per bedroom plus two others, up to a maximum of 10 persons.
  • Establishes on-site parking requirements and noise limitations.
  • Prohibits on-site events.
  • Specifies property management & complaint response requirements.
  • Establishes a complete inspection/compliance/enforcement program.

The ordinance amendments become effective on July 19, 2018.  From that date forward, all existing STRs and homeshares must meet the newly-established operational standards and are subject to the enforcement provisions of the ordinance.    In addition, the effective date of the ordinance is extremely important in two other ways:

  1. Existing STRs that do not meet the permit eligibility requirements shall be permitted to operate until July 19, 2020, or until the sale or transfer of the property or until the permit is revoked for cause. An “existing STR” is defined as an STR that was operating and rented prior to July 19, 2018.
  1. All existing STRs and all existing or new homeshares within the Regulation Overlay Zone must submit a permit application to the County by January 19, 2019.

To provide a simplified illustration of the permitting process for TRUs within the Non-Coastal Zone of unincorporated Ventura County, click here to see a permitting flowchart for Short-Term Rentals, and click here for a flowchart for Homeshares.

Coastal Zoning Ordinance (CZO)

With the adoption of the CZO amendments, the County has established clear definitions for both Short-term Rentals (STRs) and Homeshares.  Both are defined as dwellings that are rented for a period less than 30 days.  However, a homeshare must be the owner’s primary residence and the owner must be present in the dwelling while it is being rented.  Owners of STRs need not be present when renting out the dwelling.

The CZO applies only to properties within the Coastal Zone of unincorporated Ventura County. The Coastal Zone boundaries were established by the state in the 1970s and have not been modified since that time (click here to see a map).

A comprehensive set of operating requirements and performance standards have been established within the Coastal Zone.  The following is a summary of some of the most notable regulations and standards within the proposed amendments:

  • Establishes definitions for two types of Temporary Rental Units (TRUs), “short-term rental” and “homeshare”, and identifies them as accessory uses to dwellings.
  • A short-term rental (STR) is the rental of an entire dwelling for less than 30 days.
  • A “homeshare” is the rental of a portion of a dwelling unit which must be the owner’s primary residence and they must be physically present in the same dwelling as the short-term renter (i.e. rental of a separate cottage or structure is prohibited).
  • Allows STRs and Homeshares with a land use permit (zoning clearance), which must be obtained annually.
  • As required, STRs must maintain a valid County business license, timely pay annual business taxes, and/or obtain and maintain a valid County transient occupancy tax registration certificate and timely pay all required County transient occupancy taxes.
  • Establishes ownership requirements and limitations (e.g. only property owners can obtain a permit, permits expire upon change of ownership, only one TRU per owner).
  • Identifies ineligible dwellings (e.g. permitted accessory dwelling units, affordable/ caretaker/farmworker units).
  • Establishes a two-year “grace period” for existing STRs and Homeshares which do not meet eligibility requirements.
  • Sets overnight occupancy limits at two persons per bedroom plus two others, up to a maximum of 10 persons.
  • Establishes on-site parking requirements and noise limitations.
  • Prohibits on-site events.
  • Specifies property management & complaint response requirements.
  • Establishes a complete inspection/compliance/enforcement program.

Although approved by the Board of Supervisors, the ordinance amendments do not become effective until they have been certified by the California Coastal Commission.  There is currently no estimate for when Coastal Commission certification might take place.  Once the Coastal Commission has certified the ordinance amendments, operators of TRUs in the coastal zone will be required to meet the newly-established operational standards and be subject to the enforcement provisions of the ordinance.    In addition, the effective date of the ordinance is extremely important in two other ways:

  1. Existing STRs and homeshares that do not meet the permit eligibility requirements shall be permitted to operate for two years from the effective date, or until the sale or transfer of the property or until the permit is revoked for cause, whichever occurs first. An “existing STR” is defined as an STR that was operating and rented prior to July 19, 2018.
  1. All existing STRs and all existing or new homeshares within the coastal zone must submit a permit application to the County within 90 days of the effective date.

Previous Activities/Background

In July 2015, the Board of Supervisors directed County staff to study the issue of residential dwelling units used as short-term vacation rentals. In December 2015, County staff returned with a report outlining the status and issues associated with STRs in unincorporated Ventura County. The Board received the report and public testimony from a significant number of residents. The Board then directed that staff return with a more detailed report and present it as part of a public workshop on this issue.

To guide staff in its preparation of the report, the Board articulated three objectives for the regulation of short-term rentals, in the following priority order:

  1. The quality of life of the neighborhood, and the reasonable expectation of neighbors to enjoy their homes, must be maintained;
  2. The supply of housing for purchase and/or long-term rental should not be significantly reduced; and
  3. Short-term rental units should enhance the local economy. 

County staff prepared and presented the report to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting on August 2, 2016. A copy of the report can be found here. The public was invited to review and comment on the report and the STR issue in general and the Board received numerous written comments. A copy of the Board agenda item and the comments received can be found by clicking here. At that same location, you will also find a copy of the staff presentation (PowerPoint) from that Board of Supervisors' meeting.

At their August 2, 2016 meeting, the Board of Supervisors acted to direct County staff to develop and bring back to the Board recommendations related to a clearer definition of "short term vacation rental" as well as an assessment of potential options for permitting 'homeshares", permitting of STRs with waivers, Homeowner Association involvement in the permitting process, and recognizing the unique nature of different communities and neighborhoods. County staff prepared its analysis of these issues and provided options and recommendations in a report that was presented to the Board of Supervisors on November 15, 2016. Click here to view the report.

At its December 13, 2016 meeting, the Board of Supervisors concluded a two-day hearing regarding STRs and the options available for regulating them in the unincorporated areas of Ventura County. At the close of the hearing, the Board directed staff to begin work on developing Zoning Ordinance Amendments that would establish permitting requirements and standards for STRs. To guide staff in this effort, the Board provided the following direction regarding the content of the amendments:

Ojai Valley

  • Look at defining the “Ojai Valley” more broadly than the traffic impact area
  • Permit “homeshare” rentals only with ministerial permits (no waivers)
  • Develop a program to amortize existing registered STRs
  • Carve out an exception to allow STRs on historic properties

Remainder of County

  • Permit STRs and Homeshares with ministerial permits (no waivers)

In addition to the above, the Board directed that for all areas within unincorporated Ventura County, the amendments include strict standards and regulations to address nuisance issues (e.g., noise, parking, events) and they include a robust and effective enforcement and penalty program.

County staff recently completed the preparation of proposed amendments to the Non-Coastal and Coastal Zoning Ordinances consistent with the Board's direction. To better reflect the differing nature of "Short-Term Rentals" and "Homeshares" as previously defined, the Ordinance amendments are now referred to as "Temporary Rental Unit" (TRU) regulations.  These amendments were recently adopted by the Board of Supervisors and they are described in detail above.