top of page

Short-term Rental Ordinances in Major San Francisco Bay Area Cites 2019 Dec

With the growing short-term rental demand in the San Francisco Bay Area recent years, cities are enacting ordinances to regulate it more strictly to preserve local culture and keep local residents from being priced out, city after city, restrictions on short-term rentals pop up across the bay area, to keep its rapid growth in healthy check. These laws are very local in nature and vary from city to city. Here is a summary of short-term rental restrictions in major San Francisco Bay Area Cities by Lucas Rental.

San Francisco

STR license application fee: Short-term business license application fee $ 450, valid for 2 years

Tax: TOT(Transient Occupancy Tax) 14%

Government Website Link:

A short-term residential rental is a rental of all or a portion of your home for periods of less than 30 nights.To be considered the permanent resident, you must spend at least 275 nights a year in the unit where you host short-term rentals. If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the specific residential unit in which you reside.You must be registered with the City as a business and as a short-term rental."Unhosted rentals" occur when you are not present in your unit during your guests' stay. Registered hosts may only conduct unhosted short-term rentals for up to 90 nights per calendar year.


East Bay


Short term rentals in Alameda seem to be unregulated at the moment. The city has a somewhat toothless rent stabilization program but there’s nothing on the books that specifically addresses short-term rentals.


Short term rentals in Albany seem to be unregulated at the moment. The city has initiated a rent review program for long-term tenants but there’s nothing on the books that specifically addresses short-term rentals.


STR license application fee: $ 220

Tax: A 12% TOT short-term travel tax is levied and an additional 2% enforcement fee is paid

Government Website Link:

In Berkeley, short-term rental law regulates temporary stays that are less than 14 days. Short-term rentals are only permitted in certain zones (see city website for the detailed list).

Short-term rental hosts have to prove that they are the primary resident and provide liability insurance of $1,000,000 for guests. The ordinance institutes an annual 60-day cap for short-term rental properties if the owner is not on site.

Hosts are required to register with the city and obtain a zoning certificate ($220 application fee), collect a 12% transient occupancy tax, and pay an additional 2% enforcement fee.


Tax: 14% TOT

Across the bay from San Francisco, Oakland has even stricter laws that ban short-term rentals in most zones. The only exceptions are designated zones in downtown, along the waterfront, near the airport, along the I-880 freeway, and in Specific Plan areas. In those permitted areas, a Conditional Use Permit is required to operate short-term rentals. A 14% Transient Occupancy Taxes applies to all short-term rental bookings.


Tax: 14% TOT

Government Website Link:

Short term rentals are only allowed in single-family homes, according to Emeryville city ordinance. Only primary residences are eligible for short term rentals. The ordinance also institutes an annual 90-day cap for short-term rental properties if the owner is not on site.

Hosts are required to obtain a short term rental permit from the Planning Division and collect 14% transient occupancy tax.

San Leandro

STR license application fee: $ 141.5

Tax: 14% TOT

45-day moratorium on non-hosted short-term rentals went into effect July 23, 2018. Existing regulations required hosts to obtain a business license and occupancy tax certificate from the city’s Finance Department. The City Council now seems to be leaning towards extending the moratorium for an additional year and/or an outright ban on short-term rentals when the host is not present.

Union City

Short-term rentals appear to be largely unregulated in Union City. Hosts must collect a strangely precise 12.87% transient occupancy tax and some may need to apply for a business license depending on their “jurisdiction.


STR license application fee: $ 300

Tax: 1.4% TOT

Fine: First-time offenders will be fined $ 1,500, non-first offenders will be fined $ 5,000

No distinction between hosted and un-hosted short term rentals. Dwelling must be primary legal residence. Minimum stay is 2 consecutive nights. Permit required ($300), which triggers notification of adjacent neighbors. Min $1M liability insurance required. Annual cap of 60 short term rental nights total. Granny, in-law, and multi-family units are not eligible for short-term rentals. Smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and fire extinguisher required. No events, parties, or gatherings. Violations fined at $1,500 first offense, $5,000 subsequent. Must collect 1.4% occupancy tax.


Government Website Link:

Similarly, in Dublin, although there is no specific ordinance on short-term rentals, city zoning laws require that those who want to open up their homes are required to obtain conditional use permits for bed and breakfasts.


Many Bay Area communities have experienced an upsurge in short-term rentals of residential units. This phenomenon is being driven by the success of web-based platforms which facilitate the short-term rentals of residential properties. The rental of residential dwellings as short-term rentals has created nuisances such as noise, disorderly conduct, and parking impacts. Short-term rentals are not compatible with residential neighborhoods. The City’s zoning ordinance does not permit the rental of residential dwellings for shortterm (less than 30 days) periods in residential zoning districts. It is allowable to rent a room or two in a home if the owner occupies the home and if the rentals are for at least 30 days. Please be aware that shortterm rentals in Newark are limited to hotels and motels, not residential neighborhoods. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Community Preservation Specialist Patricia Montejano at 510-578-4213 or Deputy Community Development Director Art Interiano at 510-578-4331.


In Pleasanton, short-term rentals are prohibited. Owners can, however, rent out their homes for 30 days or longer, or get a conditional use permit to operate a bed-and-breakfast, according to the city’s municipal code. The B&B operations would mean that an owner is staying in the home and rents out a room. As in Pleasanton, this means that an entire home cannot be rented out for a short-term rental.


South Bay

Palo Alto

Surprisingly, Palo Alto has not yet decided how they will regulate short term rentals. While technically prohibited, the city has mostly tolerated short term rental activity and seems to investigate complaints on a case by case basis.


The City of Saratoga prohibits short-term rentals in the City’s single-family residential districts. The City’s regulations are intended to preserve Saratoga’s residential environment.


The City’s municipal code allows for limited home occupations (Chapter 19.120 – Home Occupations), such as operating an STR, as long as the home occupation is considered to be an incidental and secondary to the use of a residence for dwelling purposes and does not change the character of the neighborhood. The City’s municipal code also outlines that guests or “transients” occupying these STRs are subject to a 12% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on the rent charged during the first 30 days of occupancy (Chapter 3.12 – Transient Occupancy Tax). STR operators are required to register and obtain a Business License Certification from the City as well as collect TOT from renters.

Therefore, those who are interested in running an STR business in Cupertino must comply with the following:

The property owner or property leaseholder must be the primary resident at the property and be on-site during the lease period.

The number of transient guests must be limited to two (2) or fewer.

All transient rentals must be an incidental use.

All building alterations must comply with R1 regulations and building code requirements including occupancy regulations.

The property owner, main property leaseholder, or person otherwise conducting any short-term rentals (the operator), must submit a Business License Application and obtain Certification prior to the commencement of any short-term rental leases. Operators must also collect TOT (12% of rent charged) from guests and remit the tax to the City unless the rentals were booked through Airbnb, in which case Airbnb will collect and remit the tax to the City.

Los Altos & Los Altos Hills

Short-term rentals permitted on residential property shall be subject to following

restrictions and requirements:

(a) A maximum of one (1) short term rental unit is permitted per residential property.

(b) The short-term rental property shall contain the property owner’s primary residence.

(c) The short-term rental shall comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws,

including but not limited to state and local health, safety, fire, and building codes.

(d) The host must provide all renters with facilities for sleeping, bathing, and toileting

within a permanent dwelling that is suitable for human occupancy. Rental of sleeping space in or

on balconies, porches, tents, sheds, vehicles, garages or outdoor areas is prohibited.

(e) Short-term rental uses are permitted solely for residential purposes only. No events or

commercial uses are permitted. This includes site rentals for weddings, corporate

meetings/events/trainings, photo or video shoots, birthday parties, etc.

(f) All short-term rental parking must be provided on-site in approved parking areas. No

overnight street parking is permitted pursuant to Municipal Code section 4-3.1006.

(g) The host is responsible for ensuring the property does not become a nuisance due to

any short-term rental occupant activities. Any short-term rental with three (3) validated nuisance

violations will result in revocation of the short-term rental license.

Los Gatos

Short-term rental is the practice of renting a portion of or an entire home to a person or group of people for periods of less than 30 nights. In recent years, there has been exponential growth of short-term rentals offered through “sharing economy” websites such as Airbnb and VRBO, among others.

Prior to February 19, 2019, the Town of Los Gatos Zoning ordinance was silent on the subject of short-term rentals as a permitted use in any of the Town’s zones, which by default prohibited them from occurring within the Town’s jurisdiction.

On February 19, 2019, the Town Council approved an ordinance allowing regulated short-term rentals, designed to balance the rights of homeowners to rent their homes on a short-term basis while also protecting neighbors from nuisance situations. In order to legally host a short-term rental, you must adhere to

​Los Gatos Municipal Code Article XIV – Short-Term Rentals. The ordinance went into effect on March 21,2019. There is a six-month amnesty period to allow current hosts to bring their short-term rentals into compliance. This grace period ends on September 21, 2019.

​Short-Term Rental Licensing Process

1. Submit a Business License/TOT Registration Form to the Finance Department with a Short-Term Rental License Application for Planning Division review (including all applicable submittal requirements).

​2. Once both applications have been reviewed for approval, fees are collected.

​3. The Business License with Short-Term Rental License Number is issued.

​4. Annual renewal of the Business License with Short-Term Rental License Number is required at the end of each calendar year.

​5. The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Remittance Form is required to be submitted every quarter to the Finance Department with tax payments, if applicable.​

San Jose

San Jose started regulation short-term rentals as early as December 2014, when the city ordinance was introduced. To be eligible to operate a short-term rental, the host has to establish primary residence by living in the property for at least 60 consecutive days a year.

For hosts that meet the criteria above, there are some limitations to operating a short-term rental. If the host is not present, bookings are capped at 180 days a year. The maximum number of guests is 2 per studio, 3 per one-bedroom unit, and 2 per bedroom for larger units, up to an absolute max of 10 guests.

If the host is present, there’s no cap on the number of nights the place can be rented out per year. And the host can have up to 3 guests in single-family homes or 2 guests in multifamily dwellings.

A 10% transient occupancy tax is collected for all short-term rental bookings.


Located 10 miles north of San Jose, Sunnyvale adopted the strongest short-term laws in Silicon Valley, in an effort to protect the city’s affordable housing.

The ordinance only allows short-term rentals if the host has a permit from the city and also lives in the same property. A maximum of 4 occupants per night at any given single-family dwelling. In addition, a 12.5% transient occupancy tax is collected for all bookings

Mountain View

Short-term rental laws were established in Mountain View in December 2018 to fight some of the nation’s highest rents.

Starting from September 1, 2019, hosts need to obtain a business license and submit a short-term rental registration application, which costs between $41.25 and $165 a year. Fine for operating without a registration starts from the second offense at $500.

If hosts want to rent out the entire property, they can only do so for up to 60 nights a year. They can rent out a spare room for an unlimited number of nights as long as they are also staying at the property.

No special events—weddings, parties, corporate gatherings, etc—are allowed at the short-term rental property.

A 10% transient occupancy tax applies to all short-term bookings.


North Bay

Walnut Creek

Short-term rental activity in accessory dwelling units (ADUs) requires a conditional use permit (CUP) from the Walnut Creek Planning Department. It’s unclear how short-term rentals of primary residences or second homes are regulated in Walnut Creek. Read more…


Short term rental hosts must register with the Planning Dept ($100) and apply for a tax certificate. Registration renews annually ($50). Must collect 8.5% transient occupancy tax. Only one short term rental can take place on a single property at any given time. Local contact person must be available to respond to code compliance issues within 30 mins. More details >


Business License.

Richmond Municipal Code (“RMC”), Article VII-Businesses, Chapter 7.04 requires that all entities engaged in business within this City have a business license. “Engaged in business“ is broad terminology that includes the rental of commercial or residential property, including a short-term rental. Specifically, under Richmond Municipal Code Section 7.04.030, “[e]very person engaged in the manufacturing, wholesaling or retailing business or providing any service to the public or engaging in or conducting any other business not elsewhere in this chapter specifically mentioned shall pay annually a license fee of two hundred thirty-four dollars and ten cents ($234.10) plus an additional sum of money [where the business has employees].” A separate business license must be obtained and paid for each rental property location (parcel).

Some short-term rentals, however, may be exempt from the business license requirement. Namely, where the income generated within the City by the person or business does not exceed the sum of $600 for the fiscal year, the short-term rental is exempt. Evidence that the income of the business does not exceed the sum of six hundred dollars for the fiscal year shall be either the previous year's tax return, or, for a new business, a signed declaration stating that the person or business does not anticipate that the income generated within the City will exceed six hundred dollars for the fiscal year. (RMC Section 7.04.160.) Similarly, a short-term rental generating more than $600 but less than $1,000 for the fiscal year shall pay a reduced business license fee of one hundred dollars and thirty cents ($100.30) semi-annually or two hundred dollars and sixty-five cents ($200.65) annually. (RMC Section 7.04.115.):

As part of the Business License application process, applicants will be referred to the Planning Division to obtain a Home Occupation Authorization (RMC Chapter 15.04.810) and/or obtain a building inspection prior to issuance of the business license (these items will require additional fees).

Transient Occupancy Tax.

In addition to the business license requirements, Richmond Municipal Code Chapter 7.88 requires transients to pay a Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax in the amount of 10 percent of the rent charged by the operator for the privilege of occupancy in any hotel. A short-term rental for a period of thirty consecutive calendar days or less falls within the general and broad definition of a hotel as defined in Section 7.88.020(2) of the Richmond Municipal Code. The tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the City which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the city. The transient must pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time the rent is paid. The Municipal Code sets forth additional details regarding collection and payment of the tax. Operators of short-term rentals should refer to Chapter 7.88 of the Richmond Municipal Code.


Hosts are required to obtain a Land Use Permit to engage in short term rentals, with a minimum application fee of $2,250. Ouch! Some applications can be approved by the Zoning Administrator, others go before the full Planning Commission.

El Cerrito

Bed and Breakfast establishments shall be located, developed, and operated in compliance with the following standards:

A.Type of Residence. A Bed and Breakfast must be located, developed and operated in a single-family dwelling in which the owners of the business reside.

B.Number of Rooms. No more than two rooms for rent may be allowed without a Conditional Use Permit.

C.Appearance. In all residential districts, the exterior appearance of a structure housing a bed and breakfast establishment shall not be altered from its original single-family character.

D.Business License Required. A current business license shall be obtained and posted in compliance with Title 6 of the El Cerrito Municipal Code.

E.Limitation on Services Provided. Meals and rental of bedrooms shall be limited to registered guests. Separate or additional kitchens for guests are prohibited.

F.Parking. One off-street parking space for every two guest rooms is required, in addition to the requirements for the dwelling itself, as prescribed in Chapter 19.24, Off-Street Parking and Loading.


Danville requires a 30-day minimum stay for “unhosted” rentals of entire homes.




The City of Atherton considers short term vacation rentals a commercial use, which is prohibited. The City Council has in the past discussed easing the ban but no action has been taken to date.


Tax: TOT short-term travel tax is 12%, paid by the guest as part of their total accommodation

“Short term residential rentals” (STR’s), or rental of a room or an entire home for a period of less than 30 days, are currently prohibited in Brisbane’s residential zoning districts. In 2015, following Planning Commission and City Council study of the issue, the City Council directed its Planning Issues subcommittee to study the issue further.

The subcommittee met several times from 2016 to 2018 to discuss and observe the changing regulatory environment as STRs gained popularly throughout the region and country, and to consider best practices in the regulations of other cities and counties, The subcommittee's study culminated with their recommendation to the City Council to initiate zoning text amendments to regulate STRs at the February 7, 2019 City Council meeting.

The City Council directed the Planning Commission to develop an STR ordinance that would contain the following components at a minimum:

Occupancy Requirement – The STR ordinance will require STR operators to live on the property as their primary place of residence. This means that a corporation or business entity could not purchase a property solely to be rented as a short term rental.

Limit Non-hosted Rentals- "Hosted rentals" are room rentals that occur while the permanent resident is physically occupying the property. The STR ordinance will allow unlimiated hosted rentals. Unhosted rentals, conversely, are rentals of entire homes with no permanent resident physically occupying the site. The City Council has indicated that unhosted rentals should be limited to no more than 90 days (or a lesser number of days) per calendar year. This is intended to allow reasonable rentals of entire homes or dwelling units in the resident’s absence (e.g., while on vacation) but retain the permanent occupancy by a long-term resident year round.

Revenue-Capture Mechanisms- The STR ordinance will include revenue capture mechanisms, including annual business license fees and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). TOT tax is currently 14% and is paid by guests as part of their total payment for their stay.

Notice to Neighbors/”Good Neighbor” Policies- The STR ordinance will include neighbor notification at some point during the STR approval process, and will require compliance with “Good Neighbor” policies (noise, parking, garbage, etc.) with failure to comply with these measures as grounds for permit revocation.

Homeowner Insurance Requirement- The STR ordinance will require STRs to be adequately insured.

Daly City

Tax: TOT is 12% and is paid by the guest as part of their total accommodation cost

Implementation date: January 1, 2020

The area stipulates that the main tenants of a house can only start short-term rental business after registering a business license and obtaining a short-term rental permit. If the main resident is not the owner, the owner needs to provide a rental authorization before registering to complete the short-term rental business license. The regulations require the area to be non-hosted for 90 nights / year. There are no restrictions on the properties that residents live and rent. In the absence of a landlord, the landlord needs to ensure that a local contact person can answer the phone 24 hours and deal with issues related to the lease. Each bedroom can accommodate up to two people, and other areas can accommodate up to two additional people. Landlords need to follow a "neighborly" policy (including noise, parking, garbage disposal, etc.) during the rental process. In addition, the regulations require rental houses to be equipped with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and other safety protection tools.

Half Moon Bay

Tax: TOT 12%

Implementation date: January 1, 2020

Transient Occupancy Tax: In Half Moon Bay, STRs are subject to Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The City has been collecting this tax (12 percent) on STR stays, as well as on hotel and motel stays.

Accessory Dwelling Units: For most cases, the City’s current zoning regulations do not allow short-term rentals in accessory dwelling units (also known as granny or in-law units). The City’s intent is that new regulations for STRs will maintain this restriction.

Coastal Zone: The City of Half Moon Bay is located within the California Coastal Zone. The Coastal Commission has taken the position that at least some STRs are required in most jurisdictions to comply with the Coastal Act’s coastal access requirements.


The City of Millbrae has experienced an increase in residents renting both homes and rooms to renters for periods of less than thirty days. Short Term Residential Rental’s (STRR’s) present opportunities for the City and its residents, including the potential for residents to increase their income and for visitors to become new customers for local businesses. In order to better manage and regulate STRR’s and the issues that they may bring to residential neighborhoods in Millbrae, the City of Millbrae approved Ordinance No. 771 on July 31, 2018, regulating STRR’s to accommodate the emergence and growing popularity of on-line home sharing platforms in the City of Millbrae.

The links below provide information on how to apply for an STRR including completing the business license, permit application and transient occupancy tax certification form along with phone numbers for Code Enforcement and the Millbrae Sheriff. Fines up to $l,000/day may be imposed for those operating STRR's illegally.

The STRR Ordinance requires that residents interested in operating a STRR at their residence apply to the Community Development Department for a STRR permit. As designed this program will require a business license, STRR permit, completion of a transient occupancy tax certification form along with health and safety inspections to ensure compliance with applicable codes.

Steps to obtain an STRR:

Visit the Planning Department to complete and submit for review, a STRR permit application for a transient occupancy registration certificate. (fee required) Property Tax Statement or Deed of Ownership must be presented at Planning Department.

Schedule a Building Safety Inspection (fee required)

Visit the Finance Department to:

Pay back taxes (up to 3 years) for the annual Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), if the STRR is existing and has been operating for the past 3 years.

Obtain Business License (fee required)

Obtain Home Occupation License (fee required)


The region requires that short-term rental businesses require a registered business license, obtain a short-term lease operating permit, and pay temporary occupation tax. At the same time, ADU properties are prohibited from conducting short-term rental business. If the main occupant is not the owner, the owner needs to provide a rental authorization to register a short-term rental business license. In addition, the regulations require rental houses to be equipped with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and other safety protection tools.

Redwood City


Primary Residence. A primary residence is a dwelling unit where a person has been physically present and that the person regards as home A person may only have one primary residence at any given time.

Annual Limit for Unhosted Rentals. A primary residence may be occupied as a short-term rental for no more than 120 days per calendar year where no host is present.

No Limit for Hosted Rentals. There shall be no limit on the number of days a primary residence may be occupied as a short-term rental where the host is present.

Local Contact Person. Hosts shall identify a local contact person to be available during the term of an unhosted stay. This person shall respond to complaints.

Parking. Existing on-site spaces shall be made available to short-term renters.

Special Events. Special events such as weddings and corporate retreats are prohibited.

Registration. Registration and payment of Transient Occupancy Tax are required.

San Mateo

STR license application fee: $ 300

Tax: 14% TOT

Since June 2017, after obtaining a short-term rental permit and paying temporary occupation tax, the owner can legally rent some or all of their houses. Short-term rentals are only allowed in legal residences in single-family (R-1) or multi-family (R-3) residential areas of the Coastal Zone. To confirm that your home is in the correct area, use the Find My Area feature of the planning department.

Here are some key points about San Mateo's short-term lease regulations:

-Regulations in the area prohibit the use of ADUs for short-term leases.

-Short-term rental period is 180 nights per calendar year. -Each bedroom can accommodate up to 2 people. In addition to the bedroom, the entire house can accommodate an additional 2 people. The number of children under the age of twelve does not count.

-Each short-term rental unit must provide at least one parking space (can be a garage, driveway or other on-site parking area). If the rental unit can accommodate up to 8 guests, the unit should be equipped with at least two parking spaces. This parking space must be guaranteed to guests during the rental period.

-Applicants for a short-term rental permit must designate a local contact person who must be within a twenty-mile radius of the rental unit during the rental of the property and guarantees that they can answer questions from the tenant at any time.

All short-term rental permit holders are required to pay a temporary occupation tax (TOT) based on the rent paid. When submitting a short-term lease application, proof of payment of temporary occupation tax is required. The application fee for a short-term rental permit is $ 300 and should be paid when the application is submitted.

South San Francisco

STR license application fee: $ 300

Tax: 14% TOT

The area requires short-term landlords to be the main tenants of independent houses (multi-family houses cannot conduct short-term rental business). At the same time, the landlord needs a business license and a short-term rental business license to provide at least one Off-street parking and a local contact person can handle any rental-related issues within an hour.


Solano County


Visitors to our city have excellent options for lodging, including hotels, inns, and residential short-term rentals. However, many who rent out a room(s) or their entire residence are often unaware that this activity is subject to the payment of a 9% per night Transient Occupancy Tax, just as any hotel, motel or inn is required to do in the City of Benicia.

Transient Occupancy Tax is collected by lodging operators from their guests. It helps fund important city services such as law enforcement, fire protection, road maintenance, etc. Additionally, enforcement of this tax requirement helps ensure a “level playing field” for all hotels, motels, and short-term rental operators. The payment and enforcement of this tax on residential short-term rentals (rental stays of less than 30 days) is specified in the City of Benicia Municipal Code Chapter 3.24.

Owners/leasors of short-term rental properties are required to obtain a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate, which requires the first step of obtaining a Zoning Permit or a Use Permit through the Community Development Department, and a Business License. All are required under current sections of the Benicia Municipal Code.

Please see the following documents that may be helpful in understanding and complying with these City Ordinances. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the City staff listed at right.


Today, the future of short-term rentals is still uncertain, but it seems unlikely that they’ll ever totally go away. Even cities like Palo Alto, where short-term rentals are technically illegal, seem hesitant to enforce the regulations. That’s because many short-term rentals — both illegal and not — pay a transient occupancy tax. As that revenue becomes an established part of the city’s income, and as residents depend more and more on the money from renting out their rooms, more cities will likely be forced to strike a balance between letting short-term rentals operate, and regulating them in a sustainable way.

To keep update for the newest progress of short-term rental ordinances in San Francisco Bay Area, please feel free to like Lucas Rental Facebook page to get more updates:

1,871 views0 comments


bottom of page