No one's home
The city of Half Moon Bay is considering what to do with a Kelly Avenue property it purchased more than two years ago but never used. Clay Lambert / Review

It’s been about two and half years since the city of Half Moon Bay purchased property on Kelly Avenue near the Ted Adcock Community Center. The 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom single-family home was seen at the time as a “strategic purchase.” In light of an historic budget crunch, city officials are considering what to do with property the city took off the tax rolls and never used.

There was never any official plan for the use of the site, but City councilmembers and staff have floated ideas such as turning it into affordable housing units or creating an extension of the recreation center.

Now, any planning for the property is on hold as the city faces financial troubles related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve heard a lot of questions about the property potentially being sold with our budget concerns,” Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said. “… and like any option it is on the table.”

In 2017, the previous owner listed the home and accompanying 6,000-square-foot-lot for sale and evicted the family that had been living there. During a Half Moon Bay City Council meeting in the fall of that year, the council directed then-City Manager Magda Gonzalez to make an offer on the property.

The city spent about $943,000 for the property using money from the general fund. The council voted 3-1 to approve the purchase, Debbie Ruddock voted against it, saying at the time the purchase felt rushed.

“We did not get enough time to get input from the public,” she said. “That said, strategically, if the city continued in the strong economic environment it made sense because it is close to the Ted Adcock Center.”

The property has now been vacant for more than two years. Chidester said in January 2019 city staff began to look at master planning the entire area from the Emergency Operation Center all the way to Kelly Avenue.

“I engaged with an architecture firm to develop a proposal for potential short-term and long-term uses for the site,” he said. “The planning would involve a community process and ultimately go to the council.”

As the city prepares its budget for the next fiscal year, Chidester said there would be no funding allocated for planning anything at the site.

“We may be able to do a scaled down approach and only pay the architect for actual renderings,” he said.

Councilwoman Deborah Penrose said prior to COVID-19 crisis she was engaging in discussions with city staff about creating eight to 12 units of affordable housing on the site.

“I am not sure what the climate will be for building affordable housing because of COVID,” she said. “It may be easier to build. I’d hate to see us sell it prematurely.”

Currently, the city uses the garage on the property for storage and pays to manage minimal utilities and upkeep on the site.

Chidester said if the council decides to sell the property he anticipates the city could break even, on a sale. Zillow estimates the property to be valued at just under $1.1 million.

Ruddock said she did not want to comment on whether to sell the property, but noted the economic climate.

“It is good to have assets that you can tap in an emergency,” she said. “From that stand point the city has options.”

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