Short-Term Rentals

The Half Moon Bay City Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 6, at 7:00 p.m. at the Ted Adcock Community Center for a first reading of the Short-Term Rental (STR) and Home Occupation Ordinance. This comes following a multi-year public review process regarding Short Term Rentals beginning in March 2018. Most recently, the California Coastal Commission conditionally certified the Ordinance on March 8, 2023. City Council will now need to readopt the conditionally certified ordinance. 

If you are unable to attend the meeting you can offer your input by emailing the City’s Community Preservation Specialist, Joe Butcher, at email:Joe Butcher. The agenda and staff report for the meeting will be available on Tuesday May 30, 2023 on the City Council Agendas page.

You can review the Draft Short-Term Rental and Home Occupation Ordinance and California Coastal Commission Local Coastal Program Amendment Adoption Letter below:

California Coastal Commission Local Coastal Program Amendment Adoption Letter

Draft Short-Term Rental and Home Occupation Ordinance

Summary of Short-Term Rental and Home Occupation Provisions:

  • The new Short-term Vacation Rental provisions would establish registration requirements for short-term vacation rentals as accessory uses to residential dwelling units and would require that operators be primary residents of the residential dwelling with limited exceptions. The proposed exceptions to primary residency requirements are for specified types of development located within the C-D, C-G, and C-VS Zoning Districts, and for qualifying existing short-term rental operations. The proposed short-term vacation rental zoning provisions will require annual registration of the short-term vacation rentals. There will be a six-month period for existing operators to file an application with the City and schedule inspections for safety compliance. Additionally, the ordinance includes maximum occupancy requirements and limits unhosted nights to 60 days in the residential and PUD zoning districts. 
  • The updated Home Occupation provisions would allow residents as well as one employee to be employed on site. Additionally, the ordinance would allow one visitor vehicle at a time up to a maximum or two per day. The ordinance continues to require issuance of a Business License for home occupations. 


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 regarding STRs: 

  • 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.