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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ'S)

LOCAL COASTAL PROGRAM / GENERAL PLAN

•    What is a Local Coastal Program?
•    What is a General Plan?

ZONING / SETBACKS / LAND DEVELOPMENT

•    How do I find out what my property is zoned?
•    What are setbacks? What are the setbacks for my property?
•    Can eaves, decks, and other similar things project into my property setbacks?
•    Where am I permitted to place a storage shed or shop (accessory structure) on my property?
•    Can I build an addition to my home?
•    How high can my fence be?
•    How many parking spaces do I need?

CASE SUBMITTAL / CASE REVIEW / PLANNER INFORMATION

•    What can I do with my property?
•    Who should I call if I have questions regarding property within Half Moon Bay City Limits?
•    What is being built in Half Moon Bay?
•    What is a Coastal Development Permit (CDP)? What is the process for a CDP?
•    How much are application fees?

SIGNS

•    When is a sign permit required?
•    How much signage is my business allowed?

HOME OCCUPATION

•    What do I need to do to operate a business at my residence?

ANIMALS

•    How many chickens & roosters may I have on my property?
•    How many pets may I have on my property?

SECOND DWELLING UNITS / SECOND UNITS


•    Can I place a second dwelling unit on my property?

OTHER QUESTIONS

•    What is the size of my property?
•    Is my property in a floodplain?
•    What is the process for a person to receive a Planning Director, or Planning Commission agenda?
•    When do the Planning Director and Planning Commission Meetings Occur?

LOCAL COASTAL PROGRAM / GENERAL PLAN ( top )

What is a Local Coastal Program?

In 1976, the California Legislature enacted the Coastal Act, which created a mandate for coastal counties to manage the conservation and development of coastal resources through a comprehensive planning and regulatory program called the Local Coastal Program.

Half Moon Bay’s Local Coastal Plan and the Zoning Ordinance together constitute the "Local Coastal Program" (LCP) for the City of Half Moon Bay’s coastal zone.

The primary goal of the LCP is to ensure that the local government’s land use plans, zoning ordinances, zoning maps, and implemented actions meet the requirements of, and implements the provisions and polices of the Coastal Act at the local level.


What is a General Plan?

California law requires that each county and city in the state develop and adopt a General Plan.  The General Plan consists of a statement of development policies and includes a diagram or diagrams  and  text  setting  forth  objectives,  principles  standards,  and  plan  proposals.  It is a comprehensive long-term plan for the physical development of the county or city. In this sense, it is a "blueprint" for development.

The General Plan must contain seven (7) state-mandated elements. It may also contain any other elements that the legislative body of the county or city wishes to adopt. The seven (7) mandated elements are: Land Use, Open Space, Conservation, Housing, Circulation, Noise, and Safety. The General Plan may be adopted in any form deemed appropriate or convenient by the legislative body of the county or city, including the combining of elements.

ZONING / SETBACKS / LAND DEVELOPMENT ( top )

How do I find out what my property is zoned?

Your parcel’s Zoning Designation can be determined by staff. Please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250. When you call, please have your address and/or the assessor parcel number (APN) readily available.

What are setbacks? What are the setbacks for my property?

Setbacks are the required minimum distances between a building and the related front, side, exterior side (the street side of a corner lot), or rear property line. These distances determine the distance that construction must be set back from the property line. If you have any questions regarding setbacks, please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250, or visit City Hall at 501 Main Street.  Please be prepared with the address or APN of the subject site.

Can eaves, decks, and other similar things project into my property setbacks?


Yes, some things can...

  • Architectural features such as eaves, cornices, canopies, awnings and mechanical equipment can project up to 30 (thirty) inches into a setback.
  • Enclosed Porches and Solariums.  If attached to the first floor of a residence, these may extend into the rear yard setback across twenty percent of the lot width, but shall provide a minimum rear yard setback of thirteen feet, and provide the required side yard setbacks set forth in Tables B and C of this Chapter 18 of the Municipal Code.
  • Balconies on the second floor or above may project a maximum of thirty inches into either the required front or rear setback.  An enclosed covered patio or a covered deck (enclosed only by railings) can be placed in a rear yard of a residence as long as it is no closer than 10 (ten) feet to the rear property line.
  • Patio covers of open roof trellis design only, attached to the main structure, may be located in the required rear yards, but must provide a minimum of five feet for a rear yard setback and a side yard setback equal to the required side yard of the underlying zoning district.
  • Planter Boxes and Other Decorative Features.  Decorative features attached to the walls of a structure may encroach a maximum of twelve inches into any required setback area.


Where am I permitted to place a storage shed or shop (accessory structure) on my property?

Detached accessory structures not exceeding two hundred fifty square feet in floor area may be located within the required rear yard setback of a site but shall be no closer than five feet to the rear property line or five feet to the side property line, and shall not exceed eight feet in overall height, plus one additional foot in height for each additional three feet of set back from side or rear property lines, up to a maximum of ten feet in overall height.

Can I build an addition to my home?

Generally, the answer is yes.  However, the addition must not: 1) encroach into any required setbacks, 2) extend more than 28 feet in height, comply with Maximum Building Envelope Requirements, Lot Coverage, Floor Area Ratio, and all other development standards for the underlying Zoning District. For a more detailed response, please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250 or visit the Planning Counter at City Hall, 501 Main Street.

How high can my fence be?

The maximum height of a solid fence, wall or hedge shall be as follows:

  • Front Limited Height.  Fences, walls, and hedges located within a required front yard setback area or within the site distance area as defined herein shall be limited to a maximum height of three feet.
  • Rear Limited Height.  Fences, walls, and hedges located to the rear of the required front yard setback area shall be limited to a maximum height of six feet, unless this area is also within the site distance area as defined herein, in which case the maximum height shall not exceed three feet in the site distance area.
  • Trellis or Rails.  An additional one foot of fence or wall height is permitted on front yard, rear yard and interior side yard fences, only if the added fencing has openings comprising at least fifty percent of the added area (such as lath trellis or rails).
  • If your property is on a corner or  within 100-feet of a waterway (creek, ditch, etc) or sensitive habitat area, please contact the Planning Department prior to installing any fence, staff may be contacted at (650)726-8250.


How many parking spaces do I need?

Please refer to the Title 18 Zoningicon of the Municipal Code. Parking ratios are based on the type of use. The standard parking stall (residential, commercial and industrial uses) size is 9' x 19'. Please refer to the above section for other restrictions and requirements.

CASE SUBMITTAL / CASE REVIEW / PLANNER INFORMATION (top )

What can I do with my property?

The type of development allowed for your site depends on many issues. Any development requires compliance with the Development Standards of the underlying Zoning District, Zoning Code (Title 18 of the Municipal Code), the Local Coastal Program/General Plan, Subdivision Map Act, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If you know the zoning of your property, please refer to the appropriate section of the Municipal Code on our web site page. If you’re unable to access the Municipal Code, please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250. Again, you should have your address and/or APN prior to contact the Planning Department.

Who should I call if I have questions regarding property within Half Moon Bay City Limits?

The City of Half Moon Bay Planning Department is located at City Hall, 501 Main Street. You may contact the Planning Department by calling (650)726-8250 or via E-Mail to inquire about property within Half Moon Bay, including zoning, property usage and development standards. The Planning Counter is open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday to Friday.

What is being built in Half Moon Bay?

The Planning Department has a current list of projects that are either approved or in the planning stages. Please refer to the Planning Department at 50-72-8250 or contact the Building Department 650-726-8260 for projects currently under construction.

What is a Coastal Development Permit (CDP)? What is the process for a CDP?

The primary purpose of a CDP is to ensure that development within the Coastal Zone is consistent with all Local Coastal Program policies and the public access and public recreation policies of the Coastal Act. The Coastal Zone is established under the California Coastal Act, and is considered to have many special natural and scenic qualities that require protection. This zone encompasses all of the City of Half Moon Bay. CDPs are issued by the City of Half Moon Bay, but remain under the Coastal Commission's jurisdiction.

In accordance with the Coastal Act, many different types of projects including subdivisions, road extensions, grading, design review, conditional use permits, etc. may require a CDP. However, the CDP review process is conducted concurrently with the primary permit review required for each project itself. In general, the process for CDPs can be summarized as follows:

Step I - Applicant Consideration of Project:

Early in the consideration of a potential project, the applicant should carefully review the Local Coastal Land Use Plan / General Plan and the Local CDP Ordinance (Chapter 18.20). Planning staff should be consulted on whether the project will require a CDP and for opinions on consistency of the project with the Local Coastal Program.

Step 2 - Pre-Application Conference:

Depending of the scope of the project, the applicant may wish to make an appointment to meet with a member of the Planning staff to discuss project feasibility or process procedure prior to submitting a formal application.

Step 3 - Determination of Coastal Development Category:

All development proposals must be reviewed by the Planning staff to determine the applicable coastal regulations. A determination must be made: 1) as to whether the project requires a CDP; 2) whether the permit is issued by the City or the Coastal Commission; and 3) if the permit is issued by the City, whether it can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.

Step 4 - Filing of Application:

Applications for any CDP shall be initiated by submitting an application with a filing deposit.  Application for a CDP shall be submitted concurrently with any other discretionary or ministerial permit required for the development, unless the planning and building director determines that prior processing is required.  The application shall include a fee set by resolution of the city council.  In addition to the submittal requirements for a discretionary or ministerial permit, applications for a CDP shall also include a location map, proof of water and sewer capacity availability to meet the requirements of all of the proposed uses within the project, and any other information deemed necessary and appropriate by the planning and building director.

A staff planner will be assigned to review the material to make sure all the required information is provided. The applicant will be notified within 30 days after filing as to whether the application is complete or what additional information is required.

Step 5 - Public Hearing:

At least one public hearing is required for CDP projects that are appealable to the Coastal Commission. Other projects will require public hearings as specified in the Municipal
Code. During the public hearing, staff will make a report and recommendation. This presentation will be followed by testimony from the applicant and any other interested persons who may wish to comment on the application. Following the close of the public hearing, the decision-making body will take action to approve, conditionally approve or deny the request. Appeals of any Planning Commission or Planning Director decision can be made to the City Council by filing an appeal notice with the City Clerk within ten calendar days of the date of the decision (Chapter 1.25). Any development that is appealable to the Coastal Commission may be appealed directly to the California Coastal Commission bypassing the City Council.

Step 6 - Notice of Final Action:

Within seven days of the date of final action on a CDP, notice of the action (including findings and conditions) will be mailed to the applicant and representative, all interested persons and the Coastal Commission. Any appeal to the Coastal Commission must be made by a qualified appellant within fourteen calendar days from the date of Coastal Commission receipt of the notice of final action.

How much are application fees?

Entitlement processing requires payment of a fee or deposit, please refer to the adopted City Fee Schedule.
icon Master Fee Schedule (175.68 kB)

Please note: A deposit is a retainer and not a fee. The deposit will set up an account which shall be charged at a set hourly rate for all staff processing time. If expenditures exceed 70% of the deposit amount required by the Cost Recovery Fee Program, additional deposits will be requested.

If the final costs are less, the unused portion of the deposit will be returned to me at the conclusion of the process or final inspection of the completed project, whichever occurs later (the necessary staff time will vary according to the complexity of the application and the project.)

SIGNS ( top )

When is a sign permit required?

A sign permit is required for all signs whether temporary or permanent. No sign may be erected or displayed without a permit. No sign shall be placed in the public right of way.

How much signage is my business allowed?

Generally speaking, a business is allowed two square feet of signage to one linear frontage of building in commercial zones. Industrial zones are more restrictive. Monument and pylon (pole) signs are permitted as well. There are exceptions, so please refer to the icon Sign Section (title 15) (256.27 kB) of the Municipal Code for regulations.

HOME OCCUPATIONS ( top )

What do I need to do to operate a business at my residence?


You will need to obtain a Home Occupation and Business License Permit. The application form is available on the website (see Finance Department). Home occupations are permitted in all residential districts and shall comply with the following (Section 18.06.025(F)):

  1.  Resident Only.  No one other than a resident of the dwelling shall be employed on site or report to work at the site of a home occupation.  This prohibition also applies to independent contractors.
  2. No Inconsistent Activity.  There shall be no interior or exterior activity related to the home occupation inconsistent with or interfering with residential use of the property or detrimental to property in the vicinity.
  3. Entirely Within.  A home occupation shall be conducted entirely within a building, either the main residence or an accessory building, and shall occupy no more than five hundred square feet of floor area.  No outdoor storage of materials or supplies shall be permitted in conjunction with the home occupation.
  4. No Visibility.  The existence of a home occupation shall not be apparent beyond the boundaries of the site, and no home occupation shall involve the use of a sign, nor the display of products visible from the street.
  5. No On-site Retail.  The home occupation shall not involve on-site retail business, interior or exterior alterations, nor construction features not normally found in dwellings.
  6. Line 30:


    ANIMALS ( top )

    How many chickens & roosters may I have on my property?

    According to Section 18.06.025 of the Municipal Code, a maximum of two domestic foul may be permitted in the Single-Family and R-2 Zoning District at any one time. Three or more domestic foul are permitted in a Single-Family Zoning District upon securing a Use Permit. Roosters are strictly prohibited in all Residential Districts. If your property is not within a single-family residential district, please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250.  

    “Domestic fowl” means chickens, ducks, geese, pea fowl, pigeons, turkeys and other fowl typically used for food or food products, which may create a disturbance to the peace within residential districts.  

    How many pets may I have on my property?

    “Small an...

  7. No Traffic.  A home occupation shall not create pedestrian, automobile, or truck traffic detrimental to property in the vicinity.
  8. Submittal Required.  Prior to the issuance of a business license for a home occupation, the applicant shall submit to the planning director a written description of the operational characteristics of the proposed home occupation.  The planning director shall determine that the proposed home occupation complies with the requirements of this section.  Decisions of the planning director may be appealed to the planning commission by the applicant or by any interested party.
  9. Complaints.  In the event a complaint is received regarding a home occupation, the planning director shall refer the issue to the planning commission to review the operational characteristics of the use.  Both the complaining party and the operator of the home occupation shall be notified of the time, place, and date of the planning commission meeting.  In the event it is determined that the home occupation is detrimental to the neighborhood, the planning commission may impose any conditions necessary to maintain consistency with the provisions of this chapter.


ANIMALS ( top )

How many chickens & roosters may I have on my property?

According to Section 18.06.025 of the Municipal Code, a maximum of two domestic foul may be permitted in the Single-Family and R-2 Zoning District at any one time. Three or more domestic foul are permitted in a Single-Family Zoning District upon securing a Use Permit. Roosters are strictly prohibited in all Residential Districts. If your property is not within a single-family residential district, please contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250.  

“Domestic fowl” means chickens, ducks, geese, pea fowl, pigeons, turkeys and other fowl typically used for food or food products, which may create a disturbance to the peace within residential districts.  

How many pets may I have on my property?

“Small animal” means small domestic animals of the type customarily kept as household pets, including birds other than domestic fowl, cats, chinchillas, dogs, miniature pigs, small reptiles, rodents, and other similar animals no larger than the largest breed of dogs.  No more than three small animals may be kept outside on any site in a residential district with less than five thousand square feet.  A maximum of four small animals may be kept at any site in any residential district with a minimum of five thousand square feet.  Five or more small animals may be permitted in the R-1 and R-2 districts upon securing a use permit in each case.

SECOND DWELLING UNITS / SECOND UNITS ( top )

Can I place a second dwelling unit on my property?

An additional dwelling unit may be placed on a parcel provided a Use Permit (Ministerial) has been approved. The requirements for a standard second unit permit are:

  1. The lot is located within a Single-Family Residential District;
  2. The second dwelling unit is constructed within or above an existing building or detached accessory building;
  3. The unit does not extend further into the required setbacks than the existing foundation of the building and is not within three feet of a property line;
  4. The structural height shall be the minimum to accommodate the second unit, and in all cases shall not exceed thirty feet at the highest point of the roof;
  5. The second dwelling unit will not significantly impact adjacent properties adversely;
  6. The number of doors and windows facing the reduced side or rear yards are minimized;
  7. The proposed second dwelling unit is approved by the fire department for emergency access;
  8. The proposed addition can be accommodated with the existing water service;
  9. The existing sewer lateral can accommodate the proposed addition;
  10. The requirements of this Chapter 18.33 (Second Dwelling Units) of the Municipal Code have been met.
  11. The unit shall provide a minimum of one off-street parking space for the second dwelling unit;
  12.  Maximum Unit Size.  The floor area of the second dwelling unit shall not exceed seven hundred square feet.
  13. The proposed second dwelling unit meets the zoning, lot size, and unit size standards of the underlying Zoning district.


For further information on second unit permits contact a Planning Department staff member.

OTHER QUESTIONS ( top )

What is the size of my property?

Please contact the San Mateo County Assessor's Office. Their address and phone number is as follows: 555 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063, (650)363-4500

Is my property in a floodplain?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has maps available on their website that can help you to determine if your property is within a floodplain. Floodplain maps are also available for review at the Planning Department. 

What is the process for a person to receive a Planning Director or Planning Commission agenda in the mail?

Contact the Planning Department at (650)726-8250 or download an agenda from the Calendars and Agenda link. Complimentary copies are available at each meeting.

When do Planning Director and Planning Commission Meetings Occur?

When there are items on the agenda:

  • The Planning Director meeting occurs on an as needed basis, and
  • The Planning Commission occurs on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month.


Please note: Meetings will only occur as needed, please refer to the Calendars and Agenda link for the Planning Director and Planning Commission’s Calendar.