.Santa Cruz County Changes Rules to Limit Vacation Rentals

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved placing a moratorium on new vacation rentals countywide, along with several other rules meant to limit the growing industry.

The trustees will consider on June 30 whether to extend the 45-day moratorium.

Supervisor John Leopold, who helped craft the ordinance, said that the growing number of vacation and hosted rentals puts a burden on neighbors, who report loud parties, parking woes and other troubles at some properties. The increasing number of vacation rentals also reduces the number of available homes for county residents, Leopold said.

“I think the need for this moratorium is very clear,” Leopold said. “In the years we’ve been dealing with the vacation rentals, the nature of the complaints—and the concerns in our community—have changed.”

According to Jocelyn Drake of the Santa Cruz County Planning Department, there are currently 656 vacation rentals and 250 hosted rental permits countywide, numbers that continually fluctuate.

Another trouble, Leopold said, is that until the new rules passed, enforcement of existing rules for problem properties was spotty at best.

“In the 11 years we’ve had this, we haven’t revoked one permit—not one,” he said. “So the message we’re sending is that you can get away with a lot, and the impacts on neighborhoods will be great. I’d like us to have a system that helps the people who actually live here, rather than the people who don’t live here but rent their properties.”

The new rules give more teeth to county enforcement by allowing for easier revocation of permits. 

They also require a five-year permit review, with the first year being probationary. Moreover, owners and property managers are required to answer complaints within 60 minutes, and failure to do so will be a strike against future renewal.

In other action, the supervisors approved a five-year spending plan that will allow the county to apply for nearly $3.4 million in state funds to help with homelessness issues.

The Permanent Local Housing Allocation Program, run by the California Department of Housing & Community Development, is providing $195 million statewide for affordable apartments, workforce housing, homeless assistance and homebuyer programs, among other things. 

The funds would also go toward homeless prevention programs and navigation and shelter facilities.


  1. We live on Portola Drive and were at first skeptical about having a vacation rental right next door. The reality for us is it has been great. Its empty, unused the majority of the time. The occasional short term occupancy has not caused any problems, with either noise or parking. For much of the time its like having no neighbors at all and for part of the time its like having people live next door that you dont know. With the homes so close together, what could be better than that?

  2. My family (now 4 siblings and their children/grandchildren) have been coming to Santa Cruz since we were born along with our parents, who have come since they were little. We have come to Santa Cruz from 2 months to 2 1/2 weeks and we are concerned that we will not be able to come any more after this year. We all live in different parts of California and it is the one time we are able to be together at the same time. We have created so many memories here and really look forward to our trip every year. Our mother who passed away 4 years ago used to bring us and those memories of her we will always have but we feel every year she is with us. We love to walk to the lighthouse, walk downtown, go to the flea market on the weekends, visit antique shops, go to the boardwalk on occasion, but most of all go to the beach. We can walk to almost all of these places. We know the owners of the apartments we rent and they always come to Santa Cruz when we are there. It’s just like family. I totally understand the noise and partying but some people don’t do that. We know that we are to be quiet at a certain time and it’s just really sad that it will come to halt. People that obey the rules are being hurt by others’ inconsideration. Isn’t their a way to grandfather those in that do obey the rules and have been coming for so many years. Isn’t Santa Cruz a place to vacation? Thank you for letting me view my opinion.


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