Frequently Asked Questions about Short-Term Rentals

When did the Short-Term Rentals Ordinance go into effect?

The City adopted a Short-Term Rentals Ordinance in October 2021. 

What is a short-term rental? 

A short-term (sometimes called vacation) rental is defined as a residence where the owner rents out a bedroom(s) or the entire property for guests staying 30 days or fewer. Short-term rentals can be hosted or non-hosted.

Is the City still accepting applications for non-hosted short-term rental permits? 

No. On August 9, 2022, the City Council adopted an Urgency Ordinance that, among other things, set a maximum number of 198 non-hosted short-term rental permits to be issued Citywide. As of the ordinance adoption, the City had 198 non-hosted short-term rental permits either issued or under review.  

If the number of non-hosted short-term rental permits issued or under review drops below the 198 permit cap, will the City start accepting new non-hosted permit applications?

The City will not start accepting new non-hosted short-term rental permit applications until all of the existing non-hosted permits currently under review have been acted on. The City’s short-term rentals map and dashboard provides current data on the number of permits that have been submitted and under review, as well as the total number of permits issued and denied.    

What is the difference between a hosted and a non-hosted short-term rental? 

A hosted short-term rental is defined as a short-term rental where the owner lives and sleeps in the dwelling unit, or lives and sleeps in another legal dwelling unit on the same parcel, throughout the short-term rental period. Hosted short-term rentals are allowed only in the owner’s primary residence. Hosted rentals are permitted throughout the City with no distance requirements between them or another short-term rental of any kind.

A non-hosted short-term rental is defined as a short-term rental where the owner does not live and sleep in the dwelling unit during the short-term rental period. Starting Dec. 4, the City will not allow a newly proposed non-hosted short-term rental within 1,000 feet of another non-hosted short-term rental.

How do I decide if I am a hosted or non-hosted short-term rental? 

See the definitions of hosted and non-hosted above. If you have questions, email the City at [email protected].

Some short-term rental owners may choose to operate both hosted and non-hosted short-term rentals in the same residence but at different times. For instance, the owner of a short-term rental may rent the entire residence as a non-hosted short-term rental while out of town and then rent out bedrooms as a hosted short-term rental while in town and living and sleeping in the residence. For these situations, the short-term rental operation is classified as a non-hosted short-term rental.

What is my property is associate with an HOA?

It is an applicant’s responsibility to verify whether short-term rental activity is prohibited by a Homeowners Association's (HOA) Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) prior to submitting a Short-Term Rental Permit application.

What is an operator in good standing versus a new operator?

An operator in good standing is a short-term rental owner who was registered to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments for each short-term rental by October 7, 2021, OR who registered to pay the City’s TOT and BIA for each short-term rental between October 7 and October 27 and provided proof of prior short-term rental activity during 2021 with their Short-Term Rental Permit Application. In addition, to retain operator in good standing status, these short-term rental owners must have submitted a Short-Term Rental Permit Application prior to December 3, 2021. Operators in good standing may continue to rent, advertise, or offer a short-term rental at the address listed on the Short-Term Rental Permit Application while awaiting city approvals and when operating in compliance with all other ordinance requirements.

New short-term rental operators are any operators who do not fit the definition of an operator in good standing. New operators must obtain city approvals prior to renting, offering, or advertising a short-term rental.

What registrations or permits are required for a short-term rental to operate in compliance with the Ordinance? 

All short-term rental owners must register to pay the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Santa Rosa Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments for each short-term rental and must obtain a Short-Term Rental Permit for each short-term rental.

New operators (see above) must register for TOT and BIA assessments submit a Short-Term Rental Permit Application. To initiate the TOT and/or BIA registration process, please submit the registration form to [email protected]. If you have questions about this process, please visit New operators must obtain city approvals prior to renting, offering, or advertising a short-term rental.

A Short-Term Rental Permit may only be issued to an Owner and only for a dwelling unit at a fixed location and address. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and Junior ADUs are prohibited from use as short-term rentals unless they were legally permitted prior to January 2018.

How do I register my short-term rental for BIA assessments?

Revenue staff will automatically register your short-term rental for BIA assessments as part of the TOT registration process.

Do I need to obtain a Business Tax Certificate?

Any short-term rental owner who operates four or rentals of any type within Santa Rosa city limits must also obtain a Santa Rosa Business Tax Certificate. Visit the City's page on the obtaining a Business Tax Certificate for more information about how to apply for a Business Tax Certificate.

What requirements must a short-term-rental operator follow to be in compliance? 

For more information, visit the "Maintain Compliance for a Short-Term Rental" page.

Where can a short-term rental operate in the City? 

Hosted short-term rentals can operate anywhere in the City and within any distance of another short-term rental of any kind.

Non-hosted short-term rentals can operate in the following zoning districts including those located within an overlay district (e.g. -H, -DSA, etc):

  • Core Mixed Use (CMU)
  • Station Mixed Use (SMU)
  • Maker Mixed Use (MMU)
  • Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU)
  • Rural Residential (RR)
  • Single Family Dwelling (R-1)
  • Residential Planned Development (PD), where not explicitly prohibited
  • Medium Density Multi-Family Residential (R-2)
  • Multi-Family Residential (R-3)
  • Transit Village Residential (TV-R)
  • Office Commercial (CO)
  • Neighborhood Commercial (CN)
  • Community Shopping Center (CSC)
  • General Commercial (CG), and
  • Transit Village-Mixed (TVM)

For assistance with determining which zoning district your property is located in, please visit

Effective Dec. 4, 2021, no new non-hosted short-term rentals may be proposed within 1,000 feet from the property line of another existing or proposed non-hosted short-term rental. Please note, the 1,000-foot distance is measured from property lines, not from the short-term rental structures. Also note that the 1,000-foot distance is not discretionary, if the property line of an existing or proposed non-hosted short-term rental is located less than 1,000 feet from your property line, even if by a few feet, it cannot be issued. Hosted short-term rentals are not subject to an overconcentration requirement.

Effective Aug. 9, 2022, the total number of non-hosted short term rentals allowed to operate within city limits has been capped at 198 total. There is no cap for the number of hosted short-term rentals operating citywide.

Use the City of Santa Rosa Permit Search Tool and Non-hosted Overconcentration Evaluation Instructions to determine if your proposed non-hosted short-term rental is at least 1,000 feet from another existing or proposed non-hosted short-term rental site prior to submitting an application.

What is the process for City staff review of new/renewal Short-Term Rental Permit applications?

City staff reviews new/renewal Short-Term Rental Permit applications in the order that they are submitted to the City, and those that are deemed complete first are then acted on first. An application can be deemed complete once all issues have been addressed and/or any additional information requested by City staff has been provided. If there are other applications in process that were submitted and deemed completed prior to your application, then those applications will be acted on first.

Do I really need to submit all of the application materials identified on the application for a renewal STR Permit application (site plan, floor plan, etc), even if there have been no changes to my property/unit since my original STR Permit application?

Yes, all information identified in the Short-Term Rental Permit application is required for a renewal. The renewal application is a new application, so past information cannot just be referenced to a previous application, the City needs to ensure that all information is accurate and included in each new application. If there are no changes, you can simply resubmit what you submitted previously and it will be attached to the new application in the City’s permitting system.

For a renewal application, are we required to fill out all of the fields for things like zoning district, parcel number, contact information etc. if nothing has changed?

Yes, please complete the full application. A renewal application is a new application and cannot be accepted without all of the required information.

Will the City send a reminder or notice of the Short-Term Rental (STR) Permit expiration date and renewal process?

No.  The City does not send reminders or notices regarding STR Permit status.  Monitoring of the STR Permit expiration date and submittal of a Renewal STR Permit application prior to expiration is the responsibility of the STR Owner.  

Pursuant to Zoning Code Section 20-48.040(D), a Short-Term Rental Permit shall be valid for a period of no more than one year from date of approval.

A Renewal STR Permit application, accompanied by the renewal fee and all required supporting materials, verifications and signatures shall be submitted to the Planning and Economic Development Department annually prior to the expiration of the STR Permit.  Information on how to apply for a Renewal STR Permit can be found on the City’s website here

If a Renewal STR Permit application is received prior to the expiration of the issued STR Permit, expiration of the issued STR Permit shall be stayed until the Renewal STR application is acted on by the Director. If a complete Renewal STR Permit application is not received prior to the expiration of an issued STR Permit that Permit will be void and a New STR Permit shall be required for continued or future use of the unit as a short-term rental and all requirements of a New STR Permit shall apply, including separation requirements between Non-Hosted STRs.  

Where can I get receipts from my TOT payments?

Contact information for the City’s Revenue Division can be found on the City’s TOT website. Property owners can reach out to that department for copies of TOT receipts.