Vehicular Residential Facilities: Occupied Recreational Vehicles (RVs) and Tiny Homes on Wheels

On November 16, 2021, the Oakland City Council adopted the "Construction Innovation and Expanded Housing Options Ordinance" to promote cost-effective construction methods and housing types. Among other things, the Ordinance updated the City’s zoning regulations to authorize residential occupancy of recreational vehicles (RVs) and tiny homes on wheels by creating a new residential facility type in the Oakland Planning Code called “Vehicular Residential Facilities."

Date Posted: January 12th, 2022 @ 5:00 PM
Last Updated: January 14th, 2022 @ 1:39 PM

What Are "Vehicular Residential Facilities"?

Vehicular Residential Facilities (VRFs) are residential dwelling units constructed on a vehicle chassis and are defined in Oakland Planning Code Section 17.10.700 as RVs under State law (Health and Safety Code Section 18010). VRFs include motorhomes, trailers, and tiny homes on wheels. They contain less than 320 square feet of internal living area and 400 square feet or less of gross horizontal area.

When Is a Permit Required?

Recreational vehicle (RV) icon

VRFs require Zoning approval before they are placed on a site. For projects with 1-4 VRFs, a Design Review Exemption (DRX) is required. Projects with 5 or more VRFs will require regular Design Review (DR).

Building Permits are required to prepare the site (e.g., Grading Permit) and install utilities (e.g., Plumbing Permit, Electrical Permit).

See below for instructions on how to apply for your VRF or review our Guide to Vehicular Residential Facilities (coming soon).

Who Can Be Issued a Permit?

If no Building-related permits are required for the project, only Zoning approval is required, in which case either the property owner or authorized representative can apply. However, ONLY the following persons may apply for a Building Permit:

  1. Contractors who are licensed by the State of California with a classification appropriate for the work that will be performed and have a current Business Tax Certificate.
  2. Owners of a building or their legal representative.

How to Apply


Ready to get started? First, make sure you are registered and activated at our Online Permit Center. For instructions, please visit our Planning & Building Video Tutorials webpage.

Download the Vehicular Residential Facility (VRF) Application and follow these steps:

STEP ONE: Planning/Zoning Review

  • Complete all required information, checklist, documents, and plans as outlined in the "Zoning Approval Submittal Requirements" section on page 3 of the VRF Application
  • Submit a Zoning Worksheet through our Online Permit Center
  • In the Worksheet, upload your completed VRF Application and all required plans and documents
  • A planner will review your submission
  • Once approved, you will receive a decision letter from the Bureau of Planning

STEP TWO: Building Permits

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Permits:
Once you receive Zoning approval, you may apply for building permits through our Online Permit Center (must be a fully registered and activated user):

Grading Permits:
If required for your project, you may also apply for a Grading Permit through our Online Permit Center. Please refer to the requirements for grading permits in the Oakland Municipal Code – Grading, Excavation, and Fills.

Curbs, Gutters, Sidewalks & Driveways:
If your project involves installation, widening, elimination, or repair to a curb, gutter or sidewalk (CGS), you will need to obtain approval from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

  • A CGS Permit is issued by DOT
  • After Zoning approval, a CGS application may be submitted to DOT
  • Submit the plans that have been reviewed/approved by Zoning to with a copy of your approval email from Planning & Building


Once we receive your application, staff will review your documents for completeness. If further information is needed, a planner will contact you at the email address provided. For the latest processing estimates, please see our Average Permit Processing Turnaround Times webpage.


Call (510) 238-3891 or find quick answers through our Permit Questions Portal.

Additional Resources