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Santa Rosa, California, caps number of vacation rentals

  • Sep 20, 2022 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

Santa Rosa Sunset

The Santa Rosa City Council has capped the number of short-term rentals within the city at 198 with an emergency ordinance in response to concerns about vacation rentals’ impact on housing stock, safety during wildfires, and neighborhood disturbance.

The new rule will be in addition to the city’s current short-term rental regulations, which went into effect in 2021. Under the law, operators must obtain a city-issued short-term rental permit in order to offer, rent, or advertise a vacation rental. Permits have a fee of $1,200 and are valid for one year then must be renewed. They are nontransferable.

Short-term rental hosts must designate a local contact who is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever the property is rented, to respond to complaints within 30 minutes, and to resolve issues within 45 minutes.

Non-hosted short-term rentals are not allowed within 1,000 feet from the property line of another non-hosted short-term rental. Once a short-term operator receives a permit, the city will notify all neighbors within 600 feet of the short-term rental property.

Short-term rental properties must also comply with building and safety codes and follow rules regarding parking, occupancy, noise restrictions, fire safety, events, and evacuation notifications.

Penalties for breaking the law start at $500 for the first violation and go up to $2,000 and revocation of the operator’s short-term rental permit for a third violation within one year.

All Santa Rosa short-term rental hosts must also register with the city tax collector and get a transient occupancy tax (TOT) account number. Hosts are required to collect the tax from guests and pass it on to the city. Operators must keep records of the amount of TOT they’ve paid for three years and share them with the city upon request. Short-term rental operators are also required to pay Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessments.

Although Airbnb and Vrbo collect lodging taxes on behalf of their hosts in other California cities, they do not do so in Santa Rosa, so operators are responsible for TOT compliance themselves.

Santa Rosa isn’t the only community in the area to place new rules on short-term rentals recently.

The town of Windsor passed a 45-day moratorium on new short-term rentals on August 17 while it considers permanent regulations for the industry within the town. An ordinance is expected by January.

Sonoma County approved its own 45-day halt on new vacation rent permits in May, which was extended in June to last until May 9, 2023. Marin County also placed a 45-day moratorium on new short-term rentals in May for West Marin communities. That measure was extended to May 23, 2024.

MyLodgeTax can help California short-term rental hosts automate lodging tax to streamline and simplify their lodging tax compliance. For more on lodging taxes in California, see our state Lodging Tax Guide. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Jennifer Sokolowsky
Avalara Author Jennifer Sokolowsky
Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about tax, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Avvo, and Marriott.
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