Short-Term Lodging Unit Zoning Regulations

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Rules for Short-term Rentals

On May 17, 2016 the City Council adopted new regulations regarding STLUs throughout the City. The new regulations require STLUs to comply with certain operational and development standards with regard to vacation rentals which existed legally as of February 2, 2016, and all new STLUs, in an effort to minimize the nuisance issues associated with these properties and their impact on residential neighborhoods.  The existing STLUs, barring changes in ownership, may operate until June 16, 2016 with only a STLU Operating License, which is the permit required to register to pay Transient Occupancy Tax.  For information about the STLU Operating License, please click on the following link. 

All new STLUs, and STLUs which were legally established as of February 2, 2016 that wish to operate beyond June 16, 2018, are required to comply with new zoning permitting requirements which are available by clicking on the link below, and as described on this page.

When do I need a permit?

Permits are required for any dwelling unit that meets the definition of a STLU or STAR, according to the following definitions:

“Short-term lodging unit” or “STLU” means any lodging unit that is occupied or intended or designed to be occupied on a short-term basis other than a hotel, motel, or bed-and-breakfast inn, and, in accordance with subsection 17.28.292(C)(2), is limited to a single rental contract. Among other things, “STLU” includes (1) a STAR, which is subject to special regulations specified in Section 17.28.292 of this title, and (2) home-exchanges, where homeowners temporarily occupy one another’s property simultaneously during the same short-term period without rent or other exchange of money more than once in any 12-month period.

“Short-term apartment rental” or “STAR” means type of STLU that is a multi-family-dwelling structure on a single parcel, under single ownership, where some or all individual units are rented as STLUs, and where the STAR owner, being a person that holds legal or equitable title to the property, lives on-site in one of the other units not being rented short term. “STAR” does not include an STLU in a multi-family-dwelling structure where the units are under multiple, separate ownerships, such as a condominium development, unless the STAR owner owns all the units in the structure and on the parcel and resides in one of the other units not being rented short term. Multi-family-dwelling structures containing six or more STARs or STLUs, whether under individual or separate ownership, for the purposes of this title, are considered “hotels” or “motels.”

“Short term” means for a period of 29 or fewer consecutive calendar days. When applied to lodging, “short-term” refers to the duration of occupancy.

Where are STLUs and STARs allowed?

  • [Map] of allowed STLU areas
  • [Map] of allowed STAR areas

What permits are required?

STLUs

STLUs require a one-time STLU Zoning Permit and an annually renewed STLU Operating License.

STARs

STARs located in the areas where STLUs are allowed require a one-time STLU Zoning Permit and an annually renewed STLU Operating License. STARs located outside the areas where STLUs are allowed, but in an area where STARs are allowed, require a STAR Permit and an annually renewed STLU Operating License.

How long are permits good for?

STLU permit

 The STLU Zoning Permit is a one-time permit that expires if any of the following occurs:

  • property ownership changes,
  • the use of the property for short-term rentals ceases for a period of one year,
  • the STLU Operating License is not renewed, or
  • the STLU Operating License is revoked.

STAR permit

The STAR Permit is a one-time permit that expires if any of the following occurs:

  • property ownership changes,
  • the use of the property for short-term rentals ceases for a period of one year,
  • the STLU Operating License is not renewed,
  • the STLU Operating License is revoked, or
  • the property ceases to be the STAR owner’s primary residence.

STLU Operating License

The STLU Operating License lasts for one year and requires a yearly renewal to maintain the use.

How much do these permits cost?

  • STLU Zoning Permit. The STLU Zoning Permit fee is $140. There is no renewal fee, as this is a one-time permit.
  • STLU Star Permit. The STAR Permit fee is $536. There is no renewal fee, as this is a one-time permit.
  • STLU Operating License. The STLU Operating License fee is $105.  The yearly renewal fee is $105.

What are the development and operational requirements to operate a STLU or STAR?

The requirements by which all STLUs and STARs must abide can be found in Section 17.28.292, Short-term Lodging Units, of the Zoning Ordinance.  These requirements can also be found in Ordinance 1622, starting on page 25. 

Please note, once these new regulations are incorporated in the City online Municipal Code, this webpage will be updated to reflect that change

What if I am already operating a licensed STLU or STAR in San Clemente and I don’t meet the new requirements, such as location or operational standards?

If your existing, legally operating STLU or STAR does not fully meet the new requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, it will be considered legal, nonconforming unless changes can be made that would make the use conform to the requirements.  In the case that the use cannot be made conforming (such as would be the case if the STLU is located in an area where STLUs are no longer permitted), the new regulations include an amortization period of two years. 

During the two-year amortization period, nonconforming uses either need to be made to conform to the regulations, if possible, or cease operations.  Please review the amortization requirements, which are found in subsection 17.72.060(G) on page 32 of Ordinance 1622, as there are a number of special circumstances that can affect these uses during the amortization period as well as how amortization applies to them.

What should I do if I am already operating a STLU or STAR in San Clemente without a license?

Contact Planning staff immediately to determine your property’s eligibility to operate for short-term rentals and apply for necessary permits. Conducting a short-term rental without the required permits is a misdemeanor under the San Clemente Municipal Code.

If you have any other questions, please call the Planning Division at (949) 361-6183, or visit our office at 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, CA 92673.