It’s been about a year since the city of Half Moon Bay updated its accessory dwelling unit rules to encourage more affordable, smaller-by-design housing. As a result, city officials say the streamlined process has led to a steady increase of building applications.

More recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of housing legislation aimed at making ADUs even easier to build. However, now cities like Half Moon Bay that already have ordinances in place will have to update their codes again to conform with new state law.  

“The state law has gone past our one-year-old ordinance and so we’re going to need to update it again,” Community Development Director Jill Ekas said. “Right now, we’re doing our research on how to incorporate the law into our codes.”

Since the city revised its ADU ordinance, Ekas said it has received about 20 applications for units, up from three the previous year. 

At the time the ordinance was updated, the changes were largely seen as a way to encourage people to build these units. 

“Overall, for Half Moon Bay, the intent is that ADUs will be well accommodated within existing neighborhoods,” Ekas said. 

ADUs are smaller in scale than single-family homes, provide significant flexibility for a diverse range of household types, and offer long-term housing options. 

While Half Moon Bay already has a permissive ADU ordinance, a series of five bills signed in October is expected to further encourage development of ADUs in an effort to provide more affordable housing. 

However, Ekas said, “If not for new state law, city staff would have preferred to leave the ordinance alone for at least another year or two for the sake of monitoring benefits, impacts and effectiveness.

“One likely outcome is that the rate of ADU production will accelerate. For the sake of increasing housing stock inventory, this is a positive impact,” she said. 

Complying with new state law will allow residents the option to build two ADUs in addition to a main house on every residential lot, no matter the size. 

Additionally, among other things, the legislation will eliminate minimum lot size requirements, allows for ADUs on properties that aren’t owner-occupied, and cities can no longer allow for short-term rentals of ADUs. 

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