Current Humboldt County Ordinance for Vacation Rentals




37.1.1 Purpose. The purpose of these regulations is to increase and enhance coastal public access, access to other County visitor serving facilities, to preserve the residential character of neighborhoods by controlling and regulating transient uses which may be incompatible with the character of the neighborhood. (Former Section INL#315-10(A); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97)

37.1.2 Applicability. These regulations shall apply to all lands designated “V” on the zoning maps. (Former Section INL#315-10(B); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) 37.1.3 Principally Permitted Uses. The following uses are principally permitted on all lands designated with the “V” or Vacation Home Rental Combining Zone: Vacation Home Rentals as defined in Section C: Index of Definitions of Language and Legal Terms. (Former Section INL#315-10(C)(1); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) 37.1.4 Performance Standards. All vacation home rentals are subject to the following performance standards: Compliance with residential parking standards as required by Section 314- 109.1 of this code; (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(1); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) The number of occupants shall not exceed ten (10) persons. (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(2); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) Availability of the rental unit to the public shall not be advertised on-site; (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(3); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) Owners of rental units must provide the name, address and telephone number of a contact person for the unit to all occupied residences within a 300 foot radius of the rental unit. The notice shall be mailed to property owners prior to renting the unit and thereafter as contact information changes. An owner of a rental unit who does not reside in a five-mile radius of the residence being rented, shall designate a person within a 5-mile radius of the rental unit, as the local contact person. The owner or contact person must be available 24 hours a day to respond to tenant and neighborhood questions or concerns and to otherwise be responsible for assuring that the rental unit complies with the requirements of this Section and other applicable provisions of the code; (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(4); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) HUMBOLDT COUNTY ZONING REGULATIONS

Section 314-39 CHAPTER 4, PAGE 70 Prior to commencing vacation home rentals, the applicant shall obtain a Business license from the Humboldt County Tax Collector. The owner/operator shall collect and remit to the Humboldt County Tax Collector the transient occupancy tax; (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(5); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that trash will be disposed of (picked-up) on a weekly basis. (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(6); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97) Compliance with the requirements of this Section shall be considered conditions of approval. Noncompliance will constitute a nuisance subject to administrative penalties and revocation of the business license. (Former Section INL#315-10(D)(7); Added by Ord. 2154, Sec. 2, 12/9/97)

Letter to send to your elected Humboldt Supervisor to support Vacation Rentals getting permitted

Email letters to:

Supervisor Bohn:

Supervisor Fennel (chariperson):

Supervisor Lovelace;

Supervisor Bass:

Supervisor Sundberg:

Planning Director Hamblin:

Planning Development Manager Santos:

Or mail to:

Supervisor Name

825 5th Street, Room 111
Eureka, CA 95501

Planner Name

3015 H St.
Eureka, CA 95501

Dear Humboldt Supervisors and Planners,

As members of the short term rentals community from unincorporated areas of Humboldt, we ask that a user-friendly vacation rental permitting process be generated soon. We understand that a few Humboldt vacation rental owners were recently selected to receive letters requiring that they obtain individual, hugely expensive “V-overlay” re-zone classification,as a prerequisite to seeking a permit, or to cease operations within 30 days. We are anxiously aware that our own properties could be next.

We hope the County will see the good in streamlining their request, so that a $4500, parcel-by-parcel “V-rezoning”requirement is not the initial obstacle that shuts many out of a permitting process. We believe that Humboldt property owners in any residential or similar zone should have the same, equal ability to apply for a Conditional Use Permit to vacation rent their homes.

A straightforward, Conditional Use application process could substantially increase the 1.3 million a year of Transient Occupancy Tax/Bed Tax, from unincorporated area vacation rentals, that the county currently collects, because a user-friendly process will encourage more owners to apply for permits and to pay TOT. On the other hand, a burdensome, $4500 rezoning hurdle plus a muddy, arbitrary permitting process would push some owners away from complying, much to the detriment of Humboldt’s TOT-fed General Fund.

Nationwide, demand for vacation rentals is rising. At an average estimated daily spend rate of $142 per Humboldt vacationer, more vacation renters equals more prosperity for every local business. Why drive the market-driven trend of vacation renting underground through selective enforcement and huge, arbitrary fees? Instead let’s create a smart permitting process that channels this trend towards economic benefits for all residents, as we proudly share Humboldt’s beauty with the world.

Although surveys show wide support for vacation rentals, we are of course aware that some concerned neighbors voice uneasiness about having vacation rentals nearby. The lack of common, county-wide performance standards, which Conditional Use permits set forth, surely exacerbate this unease.  Neighbor satisfaction would be greatly increased through a county-wide Conditional Use permitting process to cement clear performance standards that address neighbor concerns. When Positive ‘conditions’ are set in place, like reasonable quiet hours, adequate parking, weekly trash pick- up, and a close contact person responsive  to any problems, then a functional  system where vacation rentals coexist  harmoniously with neighbors canbe the norm.

Concerns about the safety of vacation rentals would also be addressed, since Conditional use permit processes include safety and building inspections.

One of the recent letter-receiving owners also vacation rents in Ferndale. She describes hosting the local building and fire inspectors, who helped her to mount her fire extinguishers according to code among other safety measures, to satisfy that city’s own, well-established and well-complied with  Conditional Use permitting process.

Of course, we also support compliance with existing laws and ordinances meant to ensure that residents and their guests all behave as good citizens and neighbors.

Vacation rentals offer unique, more affordable, more family-friendly options to visitors who might otherwise shorten their stays or drive on elsewhere. They also provide supplementary income to home owners to help them keep (and keep up) their properties, which might otherwise mostly sit empty, since it’s well known that many owners  fear long-term renting in Humboldt due to the extra risks of property damage from indoor ‘growers’ here. Vacation rental owners use their own resources to advertise our Humboldt destination, attracting tourism for the good of the county as a whole, and also strive to continually beautify their homes, which raises neighborhood pride and property values too. Please keep in mind the many local benefits and great economic potential of short-stay rentals as you begin working towards a viable permitting system.

If our extremely busy county government lacks the time resources to get a straightforward system up and running soon, we suggest that this task be outsourced to a consulting firm that contracts with counties, such as Vacation Rental Compliance, out of Rancho Mirage, CA. The hiring of such a company, with a record of increasing TOT while ameliorating problems, should be funded by the 1.3 million in Bed Tax that we unincorporated vacation rental owners will pay this year. Because even though we’ve all lacked a permit, all of this time, and have been granted no viable path forward towards becoming officially permitted, the county has, quite officially, taken our vacation rentals TOT, to the tune of  almost 4 million dollars in 3 years.  Having paid that, we feel that a reasonable, user-friendly process to now apply for permits, rather than anxiously awaiting our own “30 days to cease” letter, should be our right. We urge you to create or outsource the creation of an efficient, non-burdensome process for vacation rentals permitting without further delay. Our vacation rental homes are our labors of love. Please embrace the vibrant support they offer our county, and facilitate a permit process.


Humboldt Short Term Rental Alliance – Advocacy

In order to join this group, please email and request to be added to the Google Group and we will send you an invitation.
We are starting the Humboldt Short Term Rental Alliance to support Vacation Rentals and other short term rentals (less than 30 days) in the Humboldt County Area.  The purpose of this advocacy group is to first educate ourselves in the data & stories supporting these types of rentals and then to have a common, data driven message to share with community members, local policy makers and governments.  Working as an organized group is our best chance of being effective in our goal.  We also will have at our disposal important resources, including some funding and legal expertise, from other organizations that have a stake in our success and have a track record of getting ahead of this debate early.  I am the owner of Redwood Coast Vacation Rentals as well as an owner of some vacation rentals and we manage & market 75 vacation homes in the area.  We have been involved in this process in the city of Trinidad and have been working with a Humboldt County Supervisor and staff on early discussions of Short Term Rentals and they have formed an internal working team. Both at the county level, and at the local city government level, government officials are starting to become much more engaged in this issue than they have in the past.  It is critical at this point that we begin working together and communicating with each other and build a unified voice of support.  We have already witnessed some early resistance building from the local hotel & motel industry and they will begin working with city and county officials to build a case against short term rentals. I have had the opportunity to meet with Matt Curtis who is the lead advocacy expert from HomeAway and they are willing to fund a county wide survey to measure the support for short term rentals throughout the county which is a good first step.  Trinidad Retreats has also worked on the Trinidad Ordinance and has expressed interested in being part of this group as well.  Please consider joining this group and passing along this invite to others who you feel would help us build a strong alliance to allow our short term rental industry to grow, thrive, and continue to serve the demand of short term renters and vacationers in our area.