Vacation Rental Permits in Santa Cruz County

Vacation Rental Permits in Santa Cruz County

Our agent Bjorn Berg is going to walk us through where you can and can’t get vacation rental permits in Santa Cruz County!
In the COUNTY:
There are four incorporated areas: Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Capitola, and Watsonville – everything else is under county jurisdiction!
The County jurisdiction is divided into zones. Three of those zones are at capacity, so you would have to join a waitlist:

  • LODA – 9 people on the waitlist
  • SALSDA – the longest waitlist with 64 people
  • Davenport/Swanton – only 1 person
Other than those waitlisted zones here’s where you can get permits today in the county: Santa Cruz Mountains, the non-coastal side of Highway 1, and Corralitos/Freedom.
You can also get short-term rental permits in Canon Del Sol today, or have a vacation rental in Seascape Resort or Pajaro Dunes without a permit.
Now onto CITY jurisdiction:

  • Scotts Valley has banned short-term rentals.
  • Santa Cruz has 60 permits available, BUT it must be a hosted rental. A hosted rental means you must live in the property for 6 months and 1 day out of the year. 
  • Capitola Village is a designated vacation zone so everything in that zone gets a permit. However, anything outside of that zone is a no-go.
  • Watsonville – easy: here there’s no waitlist for permits!
One more zone vacation zone: the Rio Del Mar vacation Zone has no waitlist and no permit restrictions.
Finally, it’s time for the hidden SWEET SPOT in Santa Cruz where there’s no primary residence restriction or waitlist! This little cubby runs from just south of the Harbor, to Opal Cliffs, and up into Live Oak.
Some last notes: most condos and townhomes don’t allow short-term rentals; if there is an ADU on the property, you cannot get a short-term rental permit; short-term rental permits don’t carry over to the new owner.
We hope that clears up some of the confusion! If you have a specific property in mind, shoot Bjorn an address and he will help you determine if it’s in a vacation zone, waitlisted, a no-go zone, or right in the sweet spot!


If you are looking for a team of real estate agents who are dedicated to providing exceptional service and results, look no further than the Strock Team. We are here to help you navigate the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease.

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