Visitor Serving Units

Each Land USe Plan for Carmel, Big Sur, Carmel Valley and others has a limit on “Visitor Serving Units.”  Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfast, and Campgrounds are examples of Visitor Serving Units.

If Home Stay STR’s are Visitor Serving Units they are presumably subject to these limits.

The limits were thought out and negotiated to preserve the natural beauty and accessibility for visitors within the restraints of what the land and ocean can support.




Big Sur:                       300 additional visitor serving units

Carmel Valley:          285 additional visitor serving units

Carmel Area:              28 additional visitor serving units

Carmel Valley Master Plan (Monterey County General Plan), October 26, 2010 – Amended as of February 12, 2013:


Visitor accommodation uses shall follow the following guidelines:

  • Expansion of existing hotels, motels, and lodges should be favored over the development of new projects.


  • Visitor accommodation projects must be designed so that they respect the privacy and rural residential character of adjoining properties.


  • Bed and breakfast facilities shall be counted as visitor accommodation units and be limited to a maximum of five (5) units clustered on five (5) acres in accord with Monterey County Code Chapter 15.20, unless served by public sewers.


  • All further development of visitor accommodations in the area west of Via Mallorca and north of Carmel River shall be limited to moderately-sized facilities, not to exceed a total of 175 units.


  • There shall be a maximum of 110 additional visitor accommodation units approved east of Via Mallorca, including units at Carmel Valley Ranch.



  • Carmel Coastal Area Including Carmel Highlands, Coastal Hills and Ridges east of Highway 1, Odello Property, Lower Area of Point Lobos Ranch (“Flatlands”), City of Carmel Vicinity and Carmel Meadows.  28 new additional visitor serving units are allowed to add to those already existing in 1983 such as the Highlands Inn and Tickle Pink.

Land Use Category:

Watershed and Scenic Conservation:   Coastal Hills and Ridges east of Highway 1

Agricultural Conservation:  Odello Property

Recreation and Visitor Serving Commercial:  Lower Area of Point Lobos Ranch (“Flatlands”) (28 new units)

Low Density Residential: Carmel Highlands

Medium Density Residential:  City of Carmel Vicinity and Carmel Meadows, Mission Ranch


Important sections of the Big Sur Land Use Plan.

The need to exclude the Big Sur planning area from any STR-ordinance. (LUP quotes to follow)

The Big Sur Coast is a legacy. For decades people have been working to protect that legacy for posterity. The coast is a natural wonder, its beauty inspires, and its rural, wild, and dramatic landscape is only slightly marred by human exploitation. Commercial development, STR’s, now threaten that legacy.

The Big Sur Local Coastal Program (B.S.L.C.P.) is the product of nine years effort to assure the preservation of this wild beauty and public access to it. Its fundamental policies: No development visible from highway 1, minimize all development to preserve its natural state and to preserve the limited two-lane highway capacity for the traveling public.

To affect this end, preserving the environment & visual access to it, the policies of the L.C.P. are to minimize, or limit, all destination activities. These uses (residential, commercial, and recreational), when compared to scenic driving, create higher levels of traffic congestion, development and pressures on both the environment & public services. Therefore the L.C.P. guides all land use away from destination activities and toward its use as a scenic highway. This use offers the greatest public access and the least impact on the coast.

Some major results of these policies are:

  1. Reduction of residential build-out by more than 90%.

  2. A cap on commercial transient occupancy build-out to 300 additional units as of 1986.

  3. Recreational build-out limited by strict environmental, visual, and public safety standards.

  4. The protection of a very small coastal community, its culture, and the legacy it represents as guardians of the land.


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