The Half Moon Bay City Council says addressing the housing crisis remains a top priority, though finding solutions has proven daunting so far.
Each year the council sets a list of broad topics it wants to work on and pursues policies meant to address the issues within each category. This year, the list included affordable housing, emergency preparedness, sustainability, traffic and transportation management, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Housing made the list in 2018 as well, but the city continues to struggle for an immediate solution.
Half Moon Bay residents have frequented City Council meetings for the last few months expressing the dire need to offer affordable housing to longtime residents who are on the brink of leaving because of high rental costs.
To continue to tackle the affordable housing crisis, which is a statewide problem, the city is working to develop a plan to use and replenish housing funds that could end in a development project. The city currently has about $2 million in housing funds from in lieu developer fees.
Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester said he expects a plan for the funds to be presented sometime this summer.
Another option the city is exploring is creating a community land trust, which could help push forward housing development.
Some efforts started last year are rolling into this upcoming fiscal year, such as establishing an ordinance on tenant protections and continuing to encourage ADU construction.
Beyond looking at housing insecurities, the council acknowledges a heightened awareness of the need for an up-to-date emergency preparedness plan. Councilwoman Deborah Penrose stated that one thing she thinks has been lacking in the Office of Emergency Services is the concept of organizing at a grassroots level.
“If we do not start with the neighborhoods, then all the plans and communication plans mean nothing,” Penrose said. “They have to come from the people.”
Penrose suggested the city take a more active role in explaining how citizens can get involved, through things like Community Emergency Response Team trainings.
“I also think CERT training for city staff is something we could consider,” Penrose said.
Several council members also discussed the idea of looking into a city-operated water supply for emergencies.
“I think we should be on the look out for some quick wins, some things we can actually implement that is material,” said Councilwoman Debbie Ruddock. “The city should take a lead on developing an emergency water supply. It is something we could do now.”
Chidester explained the city is in the process of speaking with the various public agencies on topics such as emergency water supply.
“We need to start and get coordinated with the public agencies and what their role is and what the need is,” Chidester said. “The city does not need to duplicate it if they already do it.”
The city plans to update the emergency operations plan for Half Moon Bay, develop a disaster-specific emergency plan, make a city emergency communications plan and get CPR training for staff.
“We will also activate our Emergency Operations Center on a more regular basis,” Chidester said.
This year the city hosted an Emergency Preparedness Fair on Main Street, which, according to Chidester, was a success in terms of attendance and the number of different organizations that participated. The city plans to continue to hold the event annually.
The city also plans to implement the pedestrian and bicycle master plan, develop a green infrastructure plan and conduct an outreach program regarding raising the minimum wage.
“These priorities will guide the budget for the next fiscal year,” said City Manager Bob Nisbet.
“There are things that are specific to what we will do this next year, but we really see this as a two-year, possibly three- year work plan.”
City Council is in the early stages of reviewing the city’s budget and expects to adopt it by June 18.