Short-Term "Vacation" Rental Regulations

The Town of Windsor currently does not have formally adopted regulations addressing short-term “vacation” rentals, which are rentals of residential units for periods of less than 30 days.   

Vacation Rentals

In 2015, in the absence of formal regulations, the Town’s Community Development Director established an internal short-term rental policy to guide responses to inquiries from property owners regarding short-term rentals.  The internal policy outlined the following requirements for a residential unit to be used as short-term rental: 

  1. Approval of a business license;
  2. Safety inspection by the Fire District; and
  3. Compliance with Fire District requirements.   

Like all land uses, short-term rentals are also required to comply with Zoning Ordinance performance standards, which include standards for noise and exterior lighting.    

On February 17, 2016, the Town Council provided direction to staff on policy options for short-term rentals (see meeting minutes). 

On November 1, 2017, the Town Council directed staff to prepare an ordinance formally allowing short-term rentals as one of a number of measures intended to address housing and economic impacts resulting from the Nuns and Tubbs fires of October 2017 (see meeting minutes).   

Since that time, preparation of the short-term rental ordinance was delayed due to staff resources being diverted to other matters, such as completing the update of the General Plan, response to the 2017 and 2019 wildfires, transition to District Elections and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2020, in response to recent community concerns regarding short-term rentals, the Town Council requested that staff proceed with preparing a short-term rental ordinance.  

On March 17, 2021 the Town Council provided direction on policy options for short-term rentals. 

Community Outreach and Next Steps 

With direction from Town Council, the Town is proceeding with the preparation of a short-term rental ordinance, which will include the following steps: 

  • A broad outreach strategy including a community meeting, on-line information and survey, and stakeholder interviews with individuals and groups (such as property owners with existing short-term rental business licenses, the real estate community, and neighbors of existing short-term rentals).   The outreach approach will help to ensure that the proposed short-term rental regulations will meet the community’s and the Town’s expectations. 

Between June 14, 2021 and July 6, 2021, an on-line survey was made available to the community to provide input on the development of a short-term rental ordinance.

A community meeting will be held in late summer/early fall 2021 to present the draft short-term rental regulations and receive input from the community.

  • Preparation of a draft ordinance based on Town Council direction and community outreach 
  • Planning Commission public hearing (consideration of draft ordinance and recommendation to Town Council) – fall 2021 
  • Two Town Council meetings – public hearing (consideration and possible ordinance introduction) and consent calendar (adoption of ordinance) – end of 2021/beginning of 2022

Please contact Ellen McDowell, Planner II, at to be added to an e-mail distribution list for community outreach notices.  

Background Documents 

Additional information can be found by reviewing the Town Council agenda reports and associated documents: 

February 17, 2016 Town Council Meeting – Agenda Item 11.2 

November 1, 2017 Town Council Meeting – Agenda Item 11.3 

March 17, 2021 Town Council Meeting – Agenda Item 11.3 

Contact Information 

Ellen McDowell, Planner II,