Enforcement Related Documents – Monterey County

County Position


RMA code compliance activities are reactive in practice, meaning code compliance acts on the basis of citizen complaints. RMA code compliance classifies complaints according to three categories depending on the risk to human life, health, and safety:


  • –  Priority One cases pose an immediate risk to human life, health and safety or immediate environmental impacts. Priority One examples include men, women, and children living in sheds or dug out basements, and active dumping of waste, trash and debris into environmentally sensitive habits such as the Carmel River, the Elkhorn Slough and other waterways.
  • –  Priority Two cases include situations not of an immediate threat to human life, health, and safety, but that require attention to avoid such future risks. Priority Two examples include non-habitable accessory structures built without permits, contractor yards in residential zones, and rubbish and garbage on a parcel.
  • –  Priority Three cases pose no danger to human life, health and safety but include situations where County zoning or building code is not being followed. Priority Three examples include house color violations, fence height, or other setback violations. STR complaints are classified as priority three unless additional, more serious violations also exist on site.RMA code compliance prioritizes its response efforts according to these categories in order to focus its limited resources on the complaints which pose the most danger to the community. Given available resources, RMA code compliance priorities are established by RMA Chief of Building Services, following direction and input of the RMA Chief of Planning (Zoning Codes), RMA Deputy Director of Land Use and Community Development, and the RMA Director. Initial responses to complaints are determined by category according to priority as follows:

Priority One: A site visit is attempted by code compliance to assess the complaint. If unable to access the site, a courtesy letter is mailed to the property owner requesting access. Code compliance begins the research and analysis of permit and violation history on the parcel.

Priority Two: A courtesy letter is mailed to the property owner requesting a site visit. A site visit may also be attempted when code compliance is in the vicinity while performing Priority One inspection duties.

Priority Three: A courtesy letter is sent to the property owner advising how to remedy the code violation. Follow-up is done as time allows in relation to Priority One & Two caseload demands.


After the initial response, all priority levels then follow the same process: If a violation is confirmed, code compliance will issue a Notice of Violation and work with the property owner to achieve compliance. If no violation exists, the case will be closed. In practical terms, Priority One cases take most of the unit’s time and resources while Priority Three cases are handled mostly through voluntary compliance on the part of the offending party.

County Documents

  • Staff Report on Lack of Enforcement of STR Ordinance January 31, 2018
  • Excerpts:

    On January 9, 2018, the Planning Commission directed staff to place an item on the January 31, 2018 Planning Commission agenda for the Commission to discuss and consider recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding measures to enhance short-term rental code compliance. Code enforcement decisions (whether to enforce, when, and how) are within the discretion of the County. Responsibilities to enforce codes are divided amongst various County Departments: Resource Management Agency (RMA) (land use, building and public works), Sheriff (abandoned vehicles), Health (water, wastewater, food, noise), and Treasurer/Tax Collector (taxes).


    Given available resources, code complaints are addressed by priority on a scale from one to three. Priority one, the highest priority, consists of stated or presumed situations that may include an immediate threat to life, health and safety; Priority two includes situations not of an immediate threat to life, health and safety; but requires attention and Priority three, the lowest priority, are situations of objectionable contentions (e.g. House color, fence location, height of a structure, etc.). RMA code compliance priorities are established by RMA Chief of Building Services, who serves as the lead for the Code Compliance Section, following philosophy/direction and input of the RMA Chief of Planning (Zoning Codes), RMA Deputy Director of Land Use and Community Development, and as needed,

    the RMA Director. STRs are typically classified as priority three). Priority three cases are handled as time allows in relation to staff caseload. staff’s assignments. An exception would be in a case where a STR has other violations that may threaten life, health and safety (e.g., unpermitted or unsafe structures; inadequate water or sewage). These would be considered priority one, and actively pursued.

    RMA currently has 1,564 open Code Enforcement cases with 466 of those being a priority one case, 713 priority two and 385 priority three. There are currently 34 open code enforcement complaints for STRs within the unincorporated areas of the County of Monterey. A third-party service, Host Compliance, has identified 799 advertised STRs within the County of Monterey. In order to receive and utilize this data, the RMA would have to subscribe the service. Based on the information received from Host Compliance in comparison with the recorded entitlements (permits), there are approximately 20 permitted STRs on record. To address the unpermitted STRs would potentially increase open priority three caseload from 385 to 1,164.

Board Report-Host Compliance July 17, 2018

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agenda June 19, 2018

Attachment A – Code Enforcement Cases by Priority Map

Attachment B – Potential Code Enforcement from TOT List Map

Citation against 101 Lower Walden

Board Report

Planning Commission STR letter

Monterey Community General Plan: Administration and Enforcement

The record supporting the Planning Commission staff efforts heavily depends on documents produced In a citizen involvement phase.   The selected citizens (not representatives) voted on various policy options. The staff has presented these findings repeatedly on the record as justification for various positions.  However, these votes were predicated (in writing to participants) on strict enforcement with substantial and adequate staff allocated to do the enforcement.  That means staff available nights and weekends when most of the worst violations occur.

This is what the participants were told:
Former Supervisor, David Potter, stated to the Short Term Rental Working Group at its inception, “any ordinance on Short Term Rentals must contain dedicated enforcement.”  Michael Wisner, participant (Carmel Highlands)

Purpose of Ordinance:
      -provide opportunity to access public areas of the county
      -preserve the residential character of neighborhoods and zoning districts
      -protect public health, safety, resources, and general welfare
      -integrate economic opportunity with the preservation of the quality of life 


      -enforceable and ENFORCED BY THE COUNTY
      -protect health
      -protect safety
      -preserve neighborhood character
      -protect resources
      -solve existing problems
      -beneficial ( ? ) county stress, not mine



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