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EMERGENCY Temporary Shelter facility

On January 19, 2021, the Sacramento City Council passed an emergency ordinance to allow for an administrative permit process to construct small temporary residential shelters and temporary shelter facilities to house people experiencing homelessness (Ordinance 2021-002). The contents contained on this webpage are for establishing emergency temporary residential shelters as approved by Council under Ordinance 2021-002.

The emergency ordinance will remain in effect only during a declared Shelter Crisis by the City Council. The City Council passed a resolution declaring a Shelter Crisis on January 14, 2020 (Resolution 2020-0017).

WHAT IS An temporary shelter facility?

A “temporary shelter facility” is a facility that provides short-term, temporary shelter to not more than 80 individuals using outdoor tents, park trailers, emergency sleeping cabins, or safe parking lots, which are parking lots that allow individuals living in their vehicles to park overnight, in compliance with the California Building Code Appendix O, the California Residential Code Appendix X, or any other applicable law.

Generally, there are four (4) ways to build a temporary shelter facility:

1.  Within an existing building (i.e., assembly/church space).

2.  Emergency sleeping cabins (i.e., tuff sheds, pallet shelters, etc.).

3.  Tents.  Note:  Tents cannot be used when weather is below 50-degrees Fahrenheit  (CA  Building Code Appendix O).

4.  Safe Parking lots.  


Where can a shelter facility be located?

1.  If your site is legally operating as an assembly facility (i.e., church) then you may establish a temporary shelter, regardless of what is listed in number 2 below.

2.  If your site is not an assembly facility you must meet all of the following parameters:

a.  Be in any of these zones: OB-2, OB-3, EC, SC, C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, M-1, M-1(S), M-2, M-2(S), MIP, MRD, M-T, H, SPX, TC, or HC; and

bBe at least 500-feet from:

i.    Another temporary shelter facility;

ii.  Childcare center, including in home childcare and family daycares;

iii.  School (K-12);

iv.    Park or museum;

c.  Be at least ½ mile from a temporary residential shelter.

3.  You may find your site’s zoning by using the City’s Land Information Lookup tool here.

To confirm if your site is suitable for a shelter facility, please email the address or parcel number (APN) to Garrett Norman, Associate Planner at

other important planning requirements

1.  Setback: Tents, park trailers, and emergency sleeping cabins must be setback a minimum of 5 feet from all lot lines and 10 feet from other temporary structures.

2.  Paving is not required; however, emergency and accessible routes may require paving.

3. If the site is undeveloped additional improvements may be required to ensure public safety.

4Potable drinking water must be provided.

5Quiet hours must be between 10:00pm to 6:00am daily.

6At least one onsite manager must be present during operating hours with their contact information in a visible location.

7Lighting must be provided for pathways and parking lots and shall not produce glare to neighboring buildings or streets.

8.  Personal storage must be provided for all occupants.

9.  Waiting area of a minimum of 100 square feet must be provided for client intake.

10.  Common space must be provided at a ratio of not less than 15 square feet per occupant with a minimum of 100 square feet. Waiting area does not count as common space.

11.  Safe parking lot requirements only:

a.  One toilet must be provided for every 15 occupants. Toilet facilities must comply with CA Building Code section 11B-213.

b.  Site must be maintained in a safe and sanitary condition.

cGarbage and food waste must be in covered trash receptacles.

d.  Operator is responsible for satisfying all applicable requirements in Appendix O of the CA Building Code.

How do I apply?

Before you apply, it is highly recommended that you have a pre-submittal meeting with the City Planning and Building staff to discuss your project characteristics. Please contact Garrett Norman, Associate Planner, to arrange a meeting.  Email:  Phone: (916) 808-7934

There are two required applications for permitting Temporary Shelter Facilities:

1.  Planning Application. A planning application must be submitted to the Planning Division within the Community Development Department. Click here to download the planning application. Submittal requirements are outlined in the application.

Once you have completed the planning application, you can submit it online. For information on how to submit online, please click hereto visit our webpage with instructions.   

2.  Building Permit Application. Depending on the shelter facility type a building permit application may be required after approval of your planning application and must be submitted to the Building Division within the Community Development Department. A building permit application can be downloaded by clicking here. A building permit submittal checklist for emergency sleeping cabins can be found here.

Once you have completed the building permit application, you can submit it online. For more information on how to submit your building permit online, please click here.