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City of Half Moon Bay
—  City  —
Beach in Half Moon Bay

Coordinates: 37°27′32″N 122°26′13″W / 37.45889°N 122.43694°W / 37.45889; -122.43694Coordinates: 37°27′32″N 122°26′13″W / 37.45889°N 122.43694°W / 37.45889; -122.43694
Country United States
State California
County San Mateo
Incorporated July 15, 1959
 - Mayor Farmer John Muller
 - City Manager Michael Dolder
 - Total 6.5 sq mi (16.8 km2)
 - Land 6.5 sq mi (16.7 km2)
 - Water 0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2)  0.31%
Elevation 72 ft (22 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 11,842
 Density 1,829.8/sq mi (706.7/km2)
  United States Census Bureau
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 94019
Area code(s) 650
FIPS code 06-31708
GNIS feature ID 0277528

Half Moon Bay is a coastal city in San Mateo County, California, USA. Its population was 11,842 as of the 2000 census. Immediately at the north of Half Moon Bay is the Pillar Point Harbor and the unincorporated community of Princeton-by-the-Sea.



Half Moon Bay is located at 37°27′32″N 122°26′13″W / 37.458840°N 122.436848°W / 37.458840; -122.436848,[1] approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of San Francisco, 10 miles (16 km) west of San Mateo, and 45 miles (72 km) north of Santa Cruz. Neighboring towns include Montara, Moss Beach, and El Granada to the north and Purissima, San Gregorio, and Pescadero to the south. Primary access is via State Route 1 (the Cabrillo Highway) from the north and south and State Route 92 from the east.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.5 square miles (16.8 km²), of which, 6.5 square miles (16.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.31%) is water.

It is situated on a bay of the same name. Major local industries include agriculture (houseplants, floriculture, Christmas trees, pumpkins, artichokes), fishing, and tourism. Historically, Half Moon Bay has been known as San Benito and Spanishtown.

A popular spot at Half Moon Bay is the 'Jetty,' or as it is sometimes called, 'The Breakwater.' This is a man-made break with unusual waves shaped by reflections from the breakwater at Pillar Point Harbor. Streams in Half Moon Bay include Frenchmans Creek, Pilarcitos Creek and Naples Creek.


Half Moon Bay usually has mild weather throughout the year. Hot weather is rare; the average annual days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher is only 0.2 days. Cold weather is also rare with an annual average of 2.5 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. Typical of central California, most of the rain falls from November to April. The normal annual rainfall is 27.96 inches (71.02 cm). Snowfall along the coast in Half Moon Bay has never been measurable; however, snow flurries were observed on December 12, 1972, and February 5, 1976. There is often fog and overcast during the night and morning hours, usually clearing to offshore during the afternoon. Persistent sea breezes help to moderate the climate along the coast; farther from the ocean, in places such as Pilarcitos Creek, days are often warmer and nights cooler than on the coast.

January is the coolest month with an average high of 58.0 °F (14.4 °C) and an average low of 43.4 °F (6.3 °C). September is the warmest month with an average high of 66.5°F (19.2°C) and an average low of 52.0 °F (11.1 °C). The highest temperature ever recorded in Half Moon Bay is 96°F (36 °C), which occurred on May 16, 2008.[2] It reached 94°F (34°C) on August 29, 1968; September 11, 1983; October 4, 1985; June 14, 2000; and May 15, 2008[3]. For many years the record lowest temperature in Half Moon Bay was 27 °F (-2.8 °C); on December 3, 1983, calm conditions, low humidity, and clear skies produced a low of 18 °F (-7.8 °C).

The most rainfall recorded in Half Moon Bay in one month was 15.70 inches (39.88 cm) in February 1998. The heaviest 24 hour rainfall was 5.33 inches (13.5 cm) on January 4, 1982. There is an average of 94.6 days with measurable rainfall.[4]

Climate data for Half Moon Bay, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 58.0 58.8 59.1 60.7 61.3 63.4 64.6 65.6 66.5 65.0 61.6 58.2 61.9
Average low °F 43.4 44.3 44.6 44.8 47.5 49.9 52.0 53.2 52.0 48.8 45.7 43.4 47.5
Precipitation inches 5.55 4.91 4.36 1.77 0.79 0.26 0.16 0.27 0.44 1.82 3.53 4.10 27.96
Average high °C 14.4 14.9 15.1 15.9 16.2 17.4 18.1 18.7 19.2 18.3 16.4 14.6 16.6
Average low °C 6.3 6.8 7.0 7.1 8.6 9.9 11.1 11.8 11.1 9.3 7.6 6.3 8.6
Precipitation mm 141.0 124.7 110.7 45.0 20.1 6.6 4.1 6.9 11.2 46.2 89.7 104.1 710.2
Source: "Climatography of the United States," National Climatic Data Center (


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 11,842 people, 4,004 households, and 2,774 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,829.8 people per square mile (706.7/km²). There were 4,114 housing units at an average density of 635.7/sq mi (245.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.27% White, 3.91% African American, 0.44% Native American, 3.39% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 11.04% from other races, and 3.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.23% of the population.

There were 4,004 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.3% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 23.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 28.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 112.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $78,473, and the median income for a family was $92,204. Males had a median income of $60,913 versus $41,265 for females. The per capita income for the city was $37,963. 6.1% of the population and 3.4% of families were below the poverty line. 7.0% of those are under the age of 18 and 6.2% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


In the state legislature Half Moon Bay is located in the 8th Senate District, represented by Democrat Leland Yee, and in the 19th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Jerry Hill. Federally, Half Moon Bay is located in California's 14th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +18[6] and is represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo.



Half Moon Bay began as a rural agriculture area, primarily used for grazing of cattle, horses, and oxen used by Mission San Francisco de Asis (established in June 1776). In the early nineteenth century land grants were given to Spanish settlers, who established farms and ranches.

The community began to develop in the 1840s as the first real town in San Mateo County. Known originally as San Benito, the town was renamed Spanishtown and attracted a thriving fishing industry in addition to its continued importance to coastal agriculture. Spanishtown became a racially diverse community, settled by Canadians, Chinese, English, Germans, Irish, Mexicans, Italians, Scots, Portuguese, and Pacific Islanders. Regular stagecoach service was established with San Mateo; coaches also served the communities of Purissima, Lobitos, and San Gregorio. Levy Brothers opened a department store in downtown Half Moon Bay. Spanishtown was officially renamed Half Moon Bay in 1874.

The area grew very slowly, even after the Ocean Shore Railroad began serving the community in 1907. The construction of Pedro Mountain Road in 1914 provided better access to San Francisco and probably contributed to the demise of the railroad by 1920. During Prohibition "rum runners" took advantage of dense fog and hidden coves in the area to serve a number of roadhouses and inns, some of which operate today as restaurants. Real growth in the area came after World War II with the construction of numerous subdivisions, eventually leading to the incorporation of Half Moon Bay in 1959. The city preserves a historic downtown district which includes historic buildings dating as far back as 1869.

Pillar Point Harbor

Aerial view of Pillar Point Harbor. View is to the east.

The Pillar Point Harbor at the northern edge of Half Moon Bay offers a protected landing for boats and provides other marine infrastructure. In the late 1980s a new master plan was developed for the Harbor.[7] A variety of fish species have been identified in the harbor area. The most abundant fish include flatfish, particularly the speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus) and the commercially important English sole (Parophrys vetulus), several species of rockfish (Sebastes sp.) with boccacio (S. paucispinis) most abundant, many members of the surfperch family, the most abundant being shiner (Cymanogaster aggregata) and dwarf surfperches (Micrometrus minimus), and the commercially important Pacific herring (Clupea harengus). Smaller populations of many other species, including significant commercial or sport species such as various surfperch, flatfish including halibut (Paralichthys californicus), lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), and cabezon (Scoraenichthys marmotarus) also are found in the harbor during the summer. Abundant winter species include starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) and topsmelt (Atherinops affinis).[8] At Pillar Point Harbor, fishermen sell crab and fish catches straight off their boats at discount prices directly to the public, and restaurants will fillet the fish for purchasers.[9]

Local attractions

Video game bus in Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay hosts its popular "Art and Pumpkin Festival" on Main Street downtown in October.

Half Moon Bay is home to five Independent bookstores, the most bookstores per capita in the United States. Ocean Books and Coastside Books can both be found on Main Street. Around the corner is Ink Spell Books at Kelly & Purissima. Bay Book is located at the Safeway shopping center and Harbor Books has opened at Princeton Harbor.

The Odd Fellows Building at 526 Main Street, Half Moon Bay has been the home to Ocean View Lodge #143, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) since April 18, 1868. Ocean View Lodge members were instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Half Moon Bay. The first Mayor John "Nick" Carter and the original city councilmen were members of this fraternal benevolent society. Ocean View Lodge donated land for the first developed city park- Ocean View Park and developed the first low cost senior housing facility on the San Mateo County Coastside- Ocean View Plaza, which it sponsors to this day as part of its ongoing benevolent work for over 140 years.

Cameron's Pub restaurant, located in Half Moon Bay off State Route 1, owns the "World's Only Double Decker Video Game Bus." For the adults, Cameron's also owns the "World's Only Double Decker Smoking Bus".

Half Moon Bay Golf Links is a public golf course facility with 36 holes of championship golf including the American parklands-style Old Course, which was designed by Arnold Palmer and the Arthur Hills-designed Scottish Links-style Ocean Course. The Ocean Course was the site for the 2008 Samsung World Championship (part of the LPGA tour). The facility also includes Mullins Bar & Grill restaurant, named after local legend Clyde "Moon" Mullins.

The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, located on the Pillar Point Harbor, is the only brewpub on the San Mateo County coast.

Crab Landing Seafood & SteakHouse \ Sushi & Oyster Bar, located in the heart of Pillar Point Harbor and voted # 1 bay area view, is the only establishment like this to have two full service bars, upstairs & downstairs levels, a patio and such extensive menu selection.

There are two hotels by the Pillar Point Harbor: the Oceano Hotel and Spa and the Pillar Point Inn. During open season fresh local fish is available to the public to purchase directly from local fisherman at the Harbor. Barbara's Fish Trap overlooks the harbor and is famous for their fish and chips, fried calamari and clam chowder.

The remnants of the village of Purissima, perhaps the only ghost town in San Mateo County, are four miles (6 km) south of the city, near the junction of State Route 1 and Verde Road.

The Best Western Half Moon Bay Lodge is located adjacent to the Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain operates a hotel located along the city's southern coast and is surrounded by Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

At the north edge of Half Moon bay is the famous big wave surf area, Mavericks, off Pillar Point, where pro surfers challenge waves over 50 feet (15 m) and one Professional Surfer, Mark Foo, died.

Montara Mountain, located North of Half Moon Bay, is a popular outdoor recreation spot, and home to the old Highway 1. Visitors to the Harbor have the chance to purchase freshly caught sea food straight off the boat. Check with the ranger station at the start of the pier for that day's catch.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, located just North of Half Moon Bay past the small airport, is a natural refuge for plants and animals adapted to live at the edge of the ocean. Home to tidepools that feature some of the amazing sea life of the northern California coast, it is open to the public as well as guided tours.

Half Moon Bay, and the areas immediately around host several state parks and beaches, including:


The World War II United States Navy seaplane tender USS Half Moon (AVP-26) was named for Half Moon Bay, and retained the name when serving as a United States Coast Guard weather reporting ship USCGC Half Moon for more than 20 years after the war.


The town is served by Half Moon Bay Airport.


The Cabrillo Unified School District serves the city. Schools in Half Moon Bay include Half Moon Bay High School, Cunha Middle School and Hatch Elementary School.


The local newspaper is the Half Moon Bay Review.


See also


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, May 16, 2008
  4. ^ National Weather Service
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  7. ^ Callander Associates, Pillar Point Harbor East Harbor Master Plan, December 21, 1988)
  8. ^ Environmental Impact Report for the Pillar Point East Harbor Master Plan, Earth Metrics Inc., prepared for the San Mateo County Harbor District, February, 1989
  9. ^ "FishFone". Retrieved 2009-12-06. 

External links



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