The Planning Commission is seeking the community’s input for regulating the use of properties in Half Moon Bay as Short-Term Rentals (typically for vacation use), known as STRs. While STRs are not presently regulated in the City’s zoning ordinance, many are currently operating here. For these, the City collects transient occupancy tax (TOT). Additionally, the City requires a business license for all those operating a STR.
The next opportunity for community members to participate in this discussion will be at a Planning Commission study session on Tuesday, January 28. At this meeting the Planning Commission will review and discuss the results of the community survey that was distributed in November 2019, and provide direction and feedback to City staff as to possible next steps. The community is invited to provide input during this study session.
Tuesday, January 28
Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
537 Kelly Avenue
The discussion of STRs was originally brought to the Planning Commission in 2018 and this study session, along with public comment, will help to further inform how the City might best regulate STRs to meet the community’s needs, and help define the scope of new regulations.
An STR is a room, home, apartment, or condominium unit that can be rented for short periods, generally for vacation use, from one to 30 nights. Typically, an STR unit is occupied for a few days at a time. STRs are often advertised and booked through services such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and other similar platforms, and are sometimes also offered as individual rentals unaffiliated with any particular property management service.
If you are unable to attend the meeting you can offer your input by emailing the City’s Community Preservation Specialist, Joe Butcher, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Agenda and staff reports for the meeting will be available on Thursday, January 23 at www.hmbcity.com/pcagendas.
You can view the results of the survey here:
What is a Short-Term Rental?
- An STR is a room, home, apartment, or condominium unit that can be rented for short periods, generally for vacation use, from one to 30 nights. Typically, an STR unit is occupied for a few days at a time. STRs are often advertised and booked through services such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and other similar platforms, and are sometimes also offered as individual rentals unaffiliated with any particular property management service. STRs may be “hosted” or “un-hosted.”
What is a Hosted STR?
- Short-term rental of a room or rooms, while the owner occupies the remainder of the residence, is a hosted STR. In hosted STRs, the rooms may have a separate entrance with a private bathroom. A hosted STR typically does not have kitchen facilities. Rental of a main house while the owner occupies a second unit, such as a duplex, or vice versa, may also be considered a hosted STR.
What is an Un-Hosted STR?
- Short-term rental of an entire residence, such as a “whole house” rental, is an un-hosted STR. The property owner is not on the property while the unit is in use as an STR.
Considerations – here is a summary of some important considerations to take into account when regulating STRs:
Potential Benefits: STRs can benefit property owners and the community in several ways, such as:
- Allowing property owners or leaseholders to earn supplemental income
- Providing overnight visitors with an alternative to hotels/motels
- Generating additional revenue for the City through transient occupancy tax (TOT)
- Potentially increasing tourism and contributing to the community’s overall economic activity by making more short term rental options available
Potential Community Impacts: The operation of STRs can have negative impacts on the community and its neighborhoods, including:
- Use of homes only as STRs, potentially causing a reduction in the supply of housing stock (reduced housing stock is one factor contributing to high housing costs)
- A potential change in the character of predominately residential neighborhoods, by adding this short-term rental activity
- Parking impacts
- Noise, trash, or other possible nuisances from short-term rental occupants
A few more things to know before you get started with the survey:
- Transient Occupancy Tax: In Half Moon Bay, STRs are subject to Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The City has been collecting this tax (12 percent) on STR stays, as well as on hotel and motel stays.
- Accessory Dwelling Units: For most cases, the City’s current zoning regulations do not allow short-term rentals in accessory dwelling units (also known as granny or in-law units). The City’s intent is that new regulations for STRs will maintain this restriction.
- Coastal Zone: The City of Half Moon Bay is located within the California Coastal Zone. The Coastal Commission has taken the position that at least some STRs are required in most jurisdictions to comply with the Coastal Act’s coastal access requirements.
- Examples of Regulations: There are many ways to regulate STRs. Most regulations in other jurisdictions limit the amount of time a residence can be used as an STR annually and impose standards to better ensure compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. The following table highlights regulations in several other coastal jurisdictions, to help provide context for the survey.
Examples of Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations in Other Coastal Jurisdictions
City of Santa Cruz
San Mateo County
Hosted: Maximum nights per year
Un-Hosted: Maximum nights per year
Maximum Length of Stay
Less than 30 Days
Less than 30 days
2 people per room
2 people per room
Neighborhood Compatibility Requirements
Local Point of Contact Required
Within 20 minutes
Within 20 Minutes