The Half Moon Bay City Council says it has interest in encouraging affordable housing in the downtown area, but so far this year, development has mostly come with single-family homes in infill sites in established neighborhoods and accessory dwelling units. 

In 2009, City Council approved the Measure D revisions to the city land-use plan. The action adopted a voter-approved 1 percent annual growth limit for the city. 

Annually, the council approves the number of Measure D certificates for the upcoming year. 

At the Dec. 4, 2018, council meeting, elected officials approved 71 Measure D certificates for the year, including 47 allocations for inside downtown and 24 for outside downtown. 

“All of us are committed to having a more robust downtown with more affordable housing,” said Mayor Harvey Rarback. “We need to build more affordable housing and it has to be built downtown, close to transportation and services.” 

By June, all the certificates for development outside of downtown were issued, while all the downtown area allocations remained available. 

“It’s been interesting this year,” said Community Development Director Jill Ekas. 

Ekas noted that this is the first year since the revisions to the ADU ordinance were implemented. The updated ordinance eased certain zoning requirements to support further development of one kind of affordable housing. 

Of the 28 allocations requested through September this year, 18 were for ADUs, according to Ekas. 

ADUs, sometimes known as mother-in-law units or granny flats, are included in the issuance of Measure D certificates, per the updated ordinance. One of the suggestions from the council concerns partial certificates for ADUs. 

“Measure D is about population growth,” Ekas said. “So, an ADU may have fewer people living in it than a single-family home.” 

Ekas explained the increase in ADU development is one of the reasons certificates are being issued outside of the downtown area, because they are typically built in already-developed sites. 

“Although it is not in the downtown area, it is one type of diverse housing,” Ekas said. “Though not every ADU is affordable.” 

A few months ago, the council hosted a study session on housing. Several ideas are being considered to create further incentives to facilitate development in downtown, such as multi-family, mixed-use housing. This includes changing Town Center density allowances, creating priority water connections for affordable housing and reducing parking requirements for mixed-use and multi-family homes. 

Councilwoman Deborah Penrose spoke in favor of banking Measure D certificates for affordable housing. 

“I think it’s a great idea,” Penrose said. “Anything we can do to make sure when we get a project we can actually make it happen.” 

Ekas said at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting options for downtown development incentives and changes to the Measure D allocation system will be considered.


Public comment period ending

A public comment period on the current draft of Half Moon Bay’s Land Use Plan ends on Sept. 13.

Half Moon Bay is unusual in that the entire city falls within the state’s coastal zone, meaning the state must approve the plan. The Planning Commission will talk about public comments at its Sept. 24 study session.

Written comments can be sent to Brittney Cozzolino at or be mailed to 501 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.

The full public draft can be viewed at

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