Permit and Resource Management Department Banner

B-40 Special Occupancy Parks v. Organized Camps

The purpose of this technical bulletin is to clarify the different types of campgrounds in Sonoma County and identify which jurisdiction (the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department [PRMD] or the California Department of Housing and Community Development [HCD]) has building permit authority.

Effective date: 03/25/2014

General

Campgrounds fall into two classifications, Organized Camps or Special Occupancy Parks. An Organized Camp is defined in Section 18897 of the Health and Safety Code and is roughly defined as a site with programs and facilities to provide for a group living experience. Classic examples of Organized Camps are Boy or Girl Scout camps, Camp Newman, Christian Youth Organization and Redwood Alliance. Most, but not all, Organized Camps have an annual operational permit issued by Sonoma County Environmental Health.

PRMD is the permit authority for all structures within Organized Camps, which are codified in Section 440 of the CBC. PRMD’s Technical Bulletin B-32 specifically addresses permit requirements for sleeping cabins in Organized Camps.

A Special Occupancy Park is defined in Section 18862.43 of the Health and Safety Code and is roughly defined as a recreational vehicle park, temporary recreational vehicle park, incidental camping area, or tent camping. It is common to see sleeping cabins, tents and yurts in both types of campgrounds. Recreational vehicles are found only in Special Occupancy Parks. All Special Occupancy Parks have an annual operational permit issued by HCD.

Special Occupancy Parks are similar to Mobile Home Parks. They operate under a permit issued by HCD and each park is listed on HCD’s website under the camp name. Sleeping cabins, campsites, RV parking sites, campsite restrooms, and laundry facilities fall under HCD’s jurisdiction for building permits. Other structures, such as single family residences, commercial stores and kiosks, fall under PRMD’s building permit jurisdiction. HCD’s website for researching Special Occupancy Parks is located at:

https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Browse/Home/California/CaliforniaCodeofRegulations?guid=IC00C9E00D45311DEB97CF67CD0B99467&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)

Technical Details

Building permits shall be issued per the following matrix:

  • (PRMD = County of Sonoma Permit and Resource Management Department)
  • (HCD = California Department of Housing and Community Development)
Organized CampSpecial Occupancy Park
Building permit PRMD HCD (PRMD for other buildings)
Septic permit PRMD PRMD
Grading permit PRMD HCD (PRMD for other buildings)
Land use PRMD PRMD
Fire County Fire County Fire
Annual Operating Permit County Environmental Health HCD