Child Care Facilities Ordinance

On May 4, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted the Child Care Facilities Ordinance.  The Ordinance will be effective in all Unincorporated areas of the County, outside of the Coastal Zone, on June 3, 2021.  The Ordinance is not effective in areas of the Coastal Zone until the Ordinance is certified by the California Coastal Commission. 

The Ordinance eases and streamlines permitting requirements for child care centers by creating a ministerial approval process. In contrast, under the County’s existing regulations, a use permit would be required for most child care centers; the use permit process requires notice and a public hearing adding substantial cost and time to the process of opening a child care center. The Ordinance allows child care centers in the following circumstances with a ministerial permit:

Within existing buildings, allowing for limited expansion, in areas zoned or designated by the General Plan for Commercial or Institutional, or Commercial Residential Mixed Use land uses. In urban areas outside of the Coastal Zone, new buildings up to 10,000 sq. ft. may be allowed subject to further criteria.

Within converted single-family residences on parcels of conforming size which are zoned for Single-Family Residential land uses.  In the Coastal Zone, residential parcels must be 10,000 sq. ft. or larger.

Within existing or expanded institutional buildings or public facilities, as defined by the Ordinance.

Child care centers that do not meet the criteria of the Ordinance require a Use Permit.  In the Coastal Zone, Child care centers that do not meet the criteria of the Ordinance require a Use Permit, as well as a Coastal Development Permit, subject to compliance with applicable policies of the Local Coastal Program.

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