Tiny Homes on Wheels-One Per Parcel

Santa Cruz (County), California


Name Tiny Homes on Wheels-One Per Parcel
Municipality Santa Cruz (County)
Zoning Districts Generally, zones that permit Residential Uses
Effective Date 12/06/2022
Municipal Code Chapter 13.10.680 Tiny Homes on Wheels.
Code Link https://www.codepublishing.com/CA/SantaCruzCounty/#!/SantaCruzCounty13/SantaCruzCounty1310.html#13.10.680
Authority Planning Department


13.10.680 Tiny Homes on Wheels.

(A)    Purpose. The purpose of this section is to provide for and regulate Tiny Homes on Wheels in order to provide needed housing for County residents and to further the housing goals of the Housing Element of the County General Plan.

(B)    “Tiny Home on Wheels (THOW)” shall be defined per SCCC 13.10.700-T: An independent dwelling unit, maximum 400 gross square feet, excluding loft area space if that loft area space meets the requirements of Government Code Section 18009.3(b) and Section 18033 and maximum 14 feet in width at the maximum horizontal projection. It provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is built upon a single chassis and is towable by a hitch mechanism and cannot move under its own power. It may only be transported upon the public highway with permit issued pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 35780.

(C)    General Requirements.

(1)    A THOW may function as a single-family dwelling as the primary unit or in place of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) such that the total number of dwelling units on a parcel does not exceed the total number of dwelling units allowed on that parcel per provisions of state and local regulations. Only one THOW shall be allowed per parcel.

(2)    THOWs that function as the primary unit shall be subject to all provisions of this code that apply to single-family dwellings in addition to the requirements of this section.

(3)    THOWs that function as an ADU shall be subject to all provisions of SCCC 13.10.681 as they apply to new construction ADUs in addition to the requirements in this section.

(4)    THOWs shall not be used as vacation rentals.

(D)    Site Requirements.

(1)    THOW Location on a Parcel.

(a)    The THOW as an ADU shall be detached from the primary dwelling unit.

(b)    A THOW shall not be located in an existing driveway.

(c)    Parking Pad.

(i)    Bumper guards, curbs, or other installations shall be adequate to prevent movement of the THOW.

(ii)    The wheels shall not be removed and the parking pad shall be a level surface paved with two inches of asphalt concrete over five inches of Class II base rock or equivalent permeable or nonpermeable surface so as to provide a durable, dustless surface, and shall be graded and drained so as to prevent erosion and disperse surface water.

(2)    Access.

(a)    The THOW parking pad shall be accessible by a path of travel such that the THOW is towable onto and off the property.

(3)    Size.

(a)    The maximum size is as required to allow for towing on public roadways, but not to exceed 400 square feet.

(4)    Development Standards.

(a)    Meet all development standards in SCCC 13.10.681 and the maximum height of a THOW shall be as established by the California Department of Motor Vehicles for towing on public roads, but not to exceed 14 feet.

(E)    Utilities.

(1)    Electricity. The THOW shall be connected to a source of electricity in compliance with the latest edition of the California Electrical Code and local ordinance. If not connected to the local electric utility power source, an off-grid system may be used that is designed to provide sufficient power based on the expected loads. All off-grid systems shall include solar panels and battery storage. Within the Urban and Rural Service Lines a THOW shall not rely on a generator as a primary or stand-by source of electric power. Outside the Urban and Rural Service Lines a THOW shall not rely on a generator as a primary source of electric power and may include provisions for connection to a generator and meet all requirements of the California Electrical Code and local ordinance. Outside the Urban and Rural Service Lines, the generator shall be a stationary emergency stand-by generator as defined in, and in compliance with all provisions of, Chapter 13.15 SCCC, Noise Planning.

(2)    Water and Sewer. The THOW shall be connected to the approved water source and sewage disposal facility in compliance with the latest edition of the California Plumbing Code and local ordinance.

(F)    Design.

(1)    Incorporate design features and materials typically used for houses, such as siding or roofing materials, pitched roofs, eaves, and residential windows.

(2)    Windows shall be at least double pane glass and shall include exterior trim or other design features to mimic windows on a building.

(3)    The roof and exterior walls shall be fixed with no slide-outs, tip-outs, or other forms of mechanically articulating extensions that expand the interior space of the THOW.

(4)    Mechanical equipment that is not incorporated within the structure shall be screened from public view and shall not be located on the roof. Plumbing vents and low-profile exhaust fans may be located on the roof. Electrical, and plumbing hook ups shall similarly be screened from public view.

(5)    Skirting. When parked on its parking pad, the THOW shall include skirting to conceal the wheels and undercarriage.

(6)    THOWs located in Wildland Urban Interface shall be designed with materials and construction methods for exterior wildfire exposure in compliance with Section R337 of the California Residential Code and local ordinance.

(G)    Occupancy. A THOW that functions as an ADU may be excepted from the sales restrictions of SCCC 13.10.681(G)(2) in that the THOW may be conveyed separately from the primary residence.

(H)    THOW Permit.

(1)    Prior to moving a THOW onto any property, a ministerial THOW building permit shall be obtained authorizing parking and occupancy of each THOW on the property pursuant to Chapter 12.01 SCCC.

(2)    The THOW permit shall expire upon removal of the THOW from the property where it is permitted.

(3)    On the property where it is permitted, the THOW permit shall be subject to renewal every five years or when the THOW is conveyed to a new owner, whichever occurs first. The permit renewal process may include a site inspection by County staff.

(4)    Inside the Coastal Zone, a THOW that functions as a primary unit shall be required to obtain a coastal development permit pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 13.20 SCCC.

(5)    Inside the Coastal Zone, a THOW that functions as an ADU that does not meet the standard for exemption or exclusion under SCCC 13.20.050 or 13.20.051 requires issuance of a coastal development permit (CDP) with noticing and appeal requirements per SCCC 13.20.107 and 13.20.108, and subject to findings per SCCC 13.20.110. CDPs for THOWs located in the Commercial Agricultural (CA) zone district, the Parks and Recreation (PR) zone district, and the Timber Production (TP) zone district shall be subject to additional permit processes and findings applicable to those zone districts.

(6)    The THOW shall be registered annually with the DMV and all required annual registration fees shall be paid, including the Vehicle License Fee. Failure to register and pay all DMV fees annually shall cause the THOW permit to expire.

(I)    Application Processing. The following additional information shall be submitted with the required information for a building permit application for a THOW:

(1)    Certificate indicating that the THOW has been constructed in accordance with Standard No. A119.5 of the Standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI-A119.5 Park Model RV Standard).

(2)    Valid DMV registration for towing to parking location.

(J)    Administration. The Director is responsible for administering the County’s THOW regulations. As part of the administration of these regulations, the Director may:

(1)    Interpret the provisions of this section and any other THOW regulations adopted by the Board of Supervisors;

(2)    Develop forms, procedures, administrative practice guidelines, and application requirements related to siting of THOW; and

(3)    Determine the amount of and collect, as a condition of accepting any application, including an application for permit renewal, the fees established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors or the County Code. Such fees shall include, but are not limited to, a THOW monitoring fee and a THOW permit renewal fee. [Ord. 5413 § 1, 2022].

Key Contacts

County of Santa Cruz Planning Department

701 Ocean Street, 4th Floor, Santa Cruz, CA.




County Page on Tiny Homes

County Ordinance 5413

Updated 10/23 – Laura

THIA will be constantly updating the legislation data. Check back often. Suggest A Correction if you are aware of any missing or incorrect information. AND keep scrolling to learn more about getting guidance.



Building Code — Legislation that speaks to how to construct a tiny house.

Zoning Code — Legislation that speaks to how the lot will be used.


ADU — Accessory Dwelling Unit

DMV — Division of Motor Vehicles

IB — Industrialized Buildings

IRC — International Residential Code

PUD — Planned Unit Development

RV — Recreational Vehicle

SF — Single Family Dwelling

T — Transitional Housing

UDO — Unified Development Ordinance

Please Suggest a Correction if you find broken links or misinformation.

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