Half Moon Bay Planning Commission unanimously approved amendments to the city’s rules governing accessory dwelling units at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 12.
The shifts were made in order to comply with state law and to further reduce barriers to development that could bring in additional affordable housing.
An accessory dwelling unit is often thought of as an additional structure built on a homeowner’s property but a garage conversion can count as one too. Changes in the ordinance include an elimination of height restrictions specific to accessory dwelling units. Instead, height restriction standards of the neighborhood apply. The changes also limit the units to Planned Unit Development districts that already have single-family homes and make certain parking restrictions if the units are constructed in an area that would affect parking availability for beachgoers.
Residents spoke about the need for affordable housing and the concern that these units would be used for short-term rentals. One Arleta Park resident noted that several friends and family were teachers trying to make ends meet in the community and that second dwelling units could be a solution to their housing needs. On the other hand, he says he provides space to short-term renters so that he can use the same space for guests when they are in town. He thinks there is room for both long-term and short-term renters.
“I don’t think there’s an overwhelming problem with ADUs being used as Airbnbs or short-term rentals,” the man said. “I feel like what we need is hundreds more ADUs in this community to make an impact on housing.”
Community Development Director Jill Ekas said that last year the city received three applications. She noted that she would like to see more but wouldn’t expect to see more than 20 per year.
In the coming months the planning commission is expected to look at a separate ordinance to address short-term rentals specifically. For that reason, commissioners did not appear overly concerned about the misuse of ADU status by short-term renters.
“It does provide affordable housing options and it really has the potential to decrease some of the pressure on some of the other areas that might be more contentious for development for a variety of reasons,” said Half Moon Bay Planning Commissioner Brian Holt.