The Half Moon Bay City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance regulating in-law units and also reintroduced the latest version of restrictions on smoking and tobacco sales at a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The smoking ban has been expanded to apply to all public sidewalks and walkways. The ban already applied to the individual units of multifamily buildings, and the council clarified those rules so designated smoking areas for those buildings have to be outside. The council also created an exception for medical cannabis patients to use electronic devices in the individual units of multifamily residences, despite some pushback to that amendment.
“The tobacco education coalition’s interpretation of state law is that wherever tobacco smoking or vaping is prohibited, then cannabis smoking or vaping, including medical cannabis, is also prohibited,” said Francesca Lomotan, a tobacco prevention specialist with the San Mateo County Tobacco Prevention Program.
City Attorney Catherine Engberg apparently disagreed with that interpretation and suggested the city is still entitled to create an exception for medical cannabis, and Vice Mayor Harvey Rarback reaffirmed the motivation behind it.
“The clear intent of the council was to allow people who actually need medical cannabis, and I think there’s an abundance of evidence that medical cannabis for people who need it is really helpful to their health,” he said.
The smoking ban also applies to all outdoor recreation areas; including beaches, skateboard parks, hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and associated parking lots.
Smoking would also be banned at city-permitted events, bus stops, ATM lines, restaurants and within 20 feet of buildings.
Smoking would still be allowed in retail tobacco stores, 20 percent of guest rooms at hotels, private residences — but not multifamily ones and not ones used for child care — and in vehicles not owned by the city.
Another ordinance regulating tobacco sales creates new rules for retailers, who will now have to obtain a permit from the city for $153 a year. Tobacco sales will not be allowed at pharmacies, and sales of flavored tobacco would also be illegal, but not products like Nicorette, which are sometimes flavored.
Now officially blessed by the council, the new rules for in-law units will streamline the review process, lower fees and generally make it easier to construct them — but the rules are still, in some ways, more conservative than the state code.
The ordinance was adopted in part because the city’s existing laws are at odds with state law and it’s also meant to encourage the production of affordable housing.
In-law units, also known as granny units or accessory dwelling units, are meant to complement a single-family home and must include “permanent provisions for sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.”
ADUs are now capped at 800 square feet and are allowed in the city’s residential zones, but not in open space reserve and urban reserve districts or in planned unit development zones.
Community Development Director Jill Ekas has said in the past that the city received applications for three ADU developments last year and she predicts that number to rise to about 20 a year with the new rules.
In September, the council agreed to update the owner occupancy requirement, which is currently on the books and will remain. Property owners must live in either the primary home on the property or in the ADU but, in certain circumstances, a waiver could be granted by the Community Development director to allow them to live elsewhere for two years within a 10-year period.
The ordinance will be reviewed next by the Coastal Commission.
“I expect [the Coastal Commission] to be supportive,” Ekas said.
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