Pacifica, California

Last updated

City of Pacifica
Pacifica Pier (January 1, 2018) - "Walker".jpg
View of the Pacifica Pier
Nighthawks- Sea Breeze Motel.jpg
Sea Breeze Motel in Rockaway Beach
Pacifica aerial.jpg
Aerial view of Pacifica
The nicest Taco Bell in America.jpg
Taco Bell Cantina at Pacifica State Beach
Seal of Pacifica, California.gif
Logo of Pacifica, California.png
The fog capital of California
Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Pacifica, California
Coordinates: 37°37′22″N122°29′8″W / 37.62278°N 122.48556°W / 37.62278; -122.48556
CountryUnited States
State California
County San Mateo
Incorporated November 22, 1957 [1]
  MayorSue Vaterlaus
  Mayor Pro TemporeSue Beckmeyer
  Total12.59 sq mi (32.61 km2)
  Land12.58 sq mi (32.59 km2)
  Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)  0.01%
82 ft (25 m)
 (2020) [4]
  Density3,100/sq mi (1,200/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific)
  Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
94044, 94045
Area code 650
FIPS code 06-54806
GNIS feature IDs 277613, 2411351

Pacifica (Spanish : Pacífica, meaning "Peaceful") [5] is a city in San Mateo County, California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.



The City of Pacifica is spread along a 6-mile (9.7-kilometer) stretch of sandy coastal beaches and hills in north central California. The city comprises several small valleys spread between Sweeney Ridge in the east, Montara Mountain to the south, and the Pacific Ocean's rocky bluffs to the west.

Surfing at Pacifica State Beach Sunset Surfer in pacifica california.jpg
Surfing at Pacifica State Beach

Pacifica is well known regionally as a popular surfing destination. Surfers and families often visit Linda Mar Beach. Rockaway Beach is a scenic location and offers recreation, shopping and dining. 2005 marked the opening of the top ranked Pacifica Skatepark. Pacifica is also a popular mountain biking destination, with many trails crossing the hillsides that surround the city, including Pedro Mountain Road, Sweeney Ridge, and areas of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. [6] Fishermen frequent the local beaches and the Pacifica Pier, often catching striped bass and salmon. Pacifica is also a popular place to hike, with many trails that wind along the beaches and bluffs, including Mori Point, San Pedro Valley County Park, Frontierland Park, the Sanchez Adobe, Milagra Ridge, and the privately owned Rockaway Quarry. [7] For live local theater and performing arts, Pacifica Spindrift Players is a local and popular favorite, in addition to Pacifica Performances which regularly provides both musical presentations and performing arts as well. [8] [9] Pacifica is also home to the Sharp Park Golf Course, [10] which was designed in 1931 by architect Alister MacKenzie. The world class bromeliad nursery, Shelldance Orchid Gardens is located just off Highway 1 in Pacifica, adjacent to the Sweeney Ridge hiking trailhead. [11]

Pacifica is divided into roughly eleven districts from north to south:

  1. Fairmont
  2. Westview (Pacific Highlands)
  3. Pacific Manor (Manor) [12]
  4. Edgemar
  5. Sharp Park [13]
  6. Fairway Park [14]
  7. Vallemar
  8. Rockaway Beach
  9. Pedro Point and Shelter Cove in the south west [15] [16]
  10. Linda Mar, Linda Mar Valley, (formerly Pedro Valley or San Pedro Valley) in the south.
  11. Park Pacifica in south east portions of the city (called the Back of the Valley).


The Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica is the oldest structure in San Mateo County. Historic American Buildings Survey Robert W. Kerrigan, Photographer Original- May 1936 VIEW FROM NORTHWEST - Francisco Sanchez Adobe, Linda Mar Boulevard and Adobe Drive, Pacifica HABS CAL,41- ,1-5.tif
The Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica is the oldest structure in San Mateo County.

Before European settlers arrived, Pacifica was home to two significant Ohlone Indian villages: Pruristac located at San Pedro Creek near present-day Adobe Drive, and Timigtac on Calera Creek in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood.

Pacifica is the location of the oldest European encounter with the San Francisco Bay. An expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà sighted the bay by climbing the hills of Sweeney Ridge in Pacifica on November 4, 1769. [17] Before then, earlier Spanish maritime explorers of the California coast Juan Cabrillo and Sebastian Vizcaino had missed the San Francisco Bay because heavy fog so frequently shrouded its entrance from the Pacific Ocean (the Golden Gate). Sighting the San Francisco Bay accelerated the Spanish colonization of Alta California because it was the only large, safe, centrally located harbor on the Alta California coast. The Spanish had known about Monterey Bay since the sixteenth century, but, unlike San Francisco Bay, it was too exposed to rough currents and winds to be used as major harbor for their trade between Asia and Mexico. In the Spanish era, Pacifica was the site of the San Pedro Valley Mission Outpost (1786–1793) of Mission Dolores. That was dissolved when a newly independent Mexico secularized the mission system. Pacifica is also the site of the still-extant Mexican-era Sánchez Adobe, built in 1846. The city is located on a part of the Mexican land grant Rancho San Pedro given to Francisco Sanchez in 1839.

Rockaway Beach and quarry in 1938, photograph by Dorothea Lange. Fishing village on the ocean south of San Francisco, California.jpg
Rockaway Beach and quarry in 1938, photograph by Dorothea Lange.

During World War II, the area around the present-day Sharp Park recreational area held the Sharp Park Detention Station, an INS processing facility for Japanese Americans, Japanese nationals, and other "foreign enemies" during Japanese internment. [18] [19] The Stanford professor Yamato Ichihashi spent six weeks in Sharp Park. He described the facility, writing, "The ground is limited by tall iron net-fences and small in area; barracks 20' x 120' are well-built and painted outside and inside and are regularly arranged; there are 10 of these for inmates, each accommodating about 40, divided into 5 rooms for 8 persons each; if double-decked (beds), 80 can be put in." [20]

On February 20, 1956, the Hazel's Inn raid occurred in Sharp Park. [21] Sheriff Earl Whitmore told the San Mateo County Times at the time, "The purpose of the raid was to let it be known that we are not going to tolerate gatherings of homosexuals in this county." [22] Ninety people were arrested that night, and the majority were San Francisco residents.

Pacifica was incorporated in 1957, relatively recently in the history of San Mateo County. Its first elected mayor was Jean Fassler, one of the first women mayors in California. It was the union of nine previously separate, unincorporated communities–Fairmont, Westview, Pacific Manor (or just Manor), Sharp Park, Fairway Park, Vallemar, Rockaway Beach, Linda Mar and Pedro Point–some of which were stops on the short-lived Ocean Shore Railroad. [23] The name "Pacifica" was chosen from Thomas Barca, by vote[ citation needed ]; "Coastside" was a close runner-up[ citation needed ]. In 1960, the city seal was designed by resident Ralph Barkey, who was inspired by Ralph Stackpole's towering "Pacifica" statue produced for the 1939–1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. [24]


An aerial view of Pacifica's geography. Pacifica State Beach is just left of upper center. Pacifica, California - aerial view.jpg
An aerial view of Pacifica's geography. Pacifica State Beach is just left of upper center.


Pacifica straddles San Pedro Creek which flows from the western slope of Sweeney Ridge. The far eastern portion of Pacifica includes San Andreas Creek which flows down the eastern slope of Sweeney Ridge. The Portola expedition followed these two creeks in the discovery of San Francisco Bay. Calera Creek runs through Pacifica Quarry and is protected as ESHA Environmentally Sensitive Habitat.


Pacifica, California
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Metric conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Erosion and spring Erosion and spring in Pacifica.jpg
Erosion and spring

Pacifica has a warm summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) typical of coastal areas of California. [25] The National Weather Service has maintained a cooperative weather station in Pacifica since November 1, 1983. Based on those records, average January temperatures range from 45.8 to 56.7 °F (7.7 to 13.7 °C) and average September temperatures range from 53.9 to 71.8 °F (12.2 to 22.1 °C). There are an average of 3.0 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 0.2 day with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The highest temperature on record was 102 °F (39 °C) on October 5, 1987, and the lowest temperature was 23 °F (−5 °C) on December 22, 1990. Annual precipitation averages 30.29 inches (769 mm) and has ranged from 15.88 inches (403 mm) in 1990 to 43.17 inches (1,097 mm) in 1996. The most rainfall in one month was 18.05 inches (458 mm) in February 1998 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 5.00 inches (127 mm) on December 27, 2004. There are an average of 66 days annually with measurable precipitation, most of which falls from October through May. Summer fogs often produce light drizzle in the night and morning hours. Condensation from the fogs also produces fog drip from trees overnight. No measurable snowfall has been recorded since records began. [26] The southeastern portions of the municipality, such as Park Pacifica, are known to be much sunnier than the rest of the city. [27]

Climate data for Pacifica, California (Pacifica 4 SSE averages: 1991–2020)
Record high °F (°C)74
Mean daily maximum °F (°C)58.1
Mean daily minimum °F (°C)45.3
Record low °F (°C)32
Average precipitation inches (mm)6.14
Source 1: [28]
Source 2: [29]


Historical population
1960 20,995
1970 36,02071.6%
1980 36,8662.3%
1990 37,6702.2%
2000 38,3901.9%
2010 37,234−3.0%
2020 38,6403.8%
U.S. Decennial Census [30]


At the 2010 census Pacifica had a population of 37,234. The population density was 2,941.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,135.6/km2). The racial makeup of Pacifica was 55.6% white, 16.8% (6,243) Hispanic or Latino of any race, 976 (2.6%) African American, 206 (0.6%) Native American, 7,230 (19.4%) Asian, 315 (0.8%) Pacific Islander, 1,703 (4.6%) from other races, and 2,638 (7.1%) from two or more races. [31]

The census reported that 37,052 people (99.5% of the population) lived in households, 64 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 118 (0.3%) were institutionalized.

There were 13,967 households, 4,511 (32.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 7,385 (52.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,592 (11.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 709 (5.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 869 (6.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 237 (1.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,126 households (22.4%) were one person and 1,098 (7.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 2.65. There were 9,686 families (69.3% of households); the average family size was 3.12.

The age distribution was 7,707 people (20.7%) under the age of 18, 2,842 people (7.6%) aged 18 to 24, 10,011 people (26.9%) aged 25 to 44, 12,155 people (32.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 4,519 people (12.1%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

There were 14,523 housing units at an average density of 1,147.2 per square mile, of the occupied units 9,545 (68.3%) were owner-occupied and 4,422 (31.7%) were rented. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.9%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.8%. 26,567 people (71.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 10,485 people (28.2%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile [32] 2010
Total Population37,234 - 100.0%
One Race34,596 - 92.9
Not Hispanic or Latino30,991 - 83.2
White alone20,703 - 55.6%
Black or African American alone902 - 2.4%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone123 - 0.3
Asian alone7,045 - 18.9%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone285 - 0.8%
Some other race alone155 - 0.4%
Two or more races alone1,778 - 4.8%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)6,243 - 16.8%


At the 2000 census there were 38,390 people in 13,994 households, including 9,655 families, in the city. The population density was 3,038.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,173.3/km2). There were 14,245 housing units at an average density of 1,127.6 units per square mile (435.4 units/km2). [33]

Of the 13,994 households 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 21.2% of households were one person and 6.4% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.21.

The age distribution was 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% 65 or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,737, and the median family income was $48,361 (these figures had risen to $52,000 and $62,463 respectively as of a 2007 estimate [34] ). Males had a median income of $50,761 versus $40,261 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,183. About 1.2% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.

The oldest person to ever live in Pacifica is Rose G. Rosenthal who was born on April 8, 1901, and died December 27, 2008.

The Reverend Herschell Harkins Memorial pier was constructed in 1973 and was designed to carry sewage piping out to sea. It was closed in 1992 due to corrosion of some of the structure. Since then the pier has been repaired and is a well known fishing spot; on July 8–9, 1995, over 1,000 salmon were caught from the pier.


Top employers

According to the city's 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, [35] the top employers in the city are:

#Employer# of Employees
1 Pacifica School District 499
2City of Pacifica282
3 Safeway 262
4 Jefferson Union High School District 137
5Oceana Market55
6 Ace Hardware 36
7 Recology of the Coast35
8 Rite Aid 34
9 Ross 31
10North Coast County Water District22


Governed by a city council of five elected members, with each council seat in turn serving as mayor for a one-year term. A city manager, city attorney and city clerk are appointed and serve in support of the council to enact the ordinances passed by the council, which meets biweekly on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. [36]


The major City departments, ranked by cost: [37]

As of August 1, 2011, the South San Francisco Police Department took over the Pacifica emergency calls dispatch. [38]

State and federal representation

In the California State Legislature, Pacifica is in the 13th Senate District , represented by Democrat Josh Becker, and in the 23rd Assembly District , represented by Democrat Marc Berman. [39]

In the United States House of Representatives, Pacifica is in California's 16th congressional district , represented by Democrat Anna Eshoo. [40]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, Pacifica has 25,029 registered voters. Of those, 13,404 (53.6%) are registered Democrats, 3,290 (13.1%) are registered Republicans, and 7,154 (28.6%) have declined to state a political party. [41]


The local weekly newspaper, the Pacifica Tribune , [42] is mailed out every Wednesday. It is part of Coastside News Group, a locally owned California Benefit Corporation that includes the Half Moon Bay Review [43] and Coastside Magazine. It originated as the Coastside Tribune early in the twentieth century.

Other media include:

Pacifica Community Television, Pacifica's Emmy Award-winning local public-access television cable TV channel 26, has continuously operated for 30 years, featuring community based television. On national television, Guy Fieri visited Gorilla BBQ for the fifth season of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2009. [49]

The final scene of Harold and Maude in which Harold makes the leap off a cliff was filmed at Mori Point in Pacifica. [50] The 2003 film House of Sand and Fog and the 2012 Chasing Mavericks were also filmed in Pacifica. [50]

The 2007 National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr is set in Pacifica. [51] In 2017, it was adapted into a Lifetime movie.


Primary and secondary schools

Oceana High School Ohsp pan1.png
Oceana High School
Terra Nova High School Terra Nova High Pacifica Front 1.jpg
Terra Nova High School

The public elementary and middle school district, known as Pacifica School District, (formerly the Laguna Salada School District), consists of Vallemar, Cabrillo, Ingrid B. Lacy, Sunset Ridge, Ortega, Linda Mar and Ocean Shore schools, and also a home schooling program. The administration office is located at 375 Reina del Mar Avenue, adjacent to Vallemar School. Each school enrolls about 550-600 students. There are two private K-8 schools, Good Shepherd School and Pacific Bay Christian School, a K-12 school which was founded as a segregation academy.

Pacifica also previously had an established elementary school from 1969 - 2005 known as Oddstad (Oddstad Andres) Elementary located in the Park Pacifica neighborhood. Though now non-operational, the campus site has been host to numerous community events, and private courses as well as sporting events and leisure.

Pacifica has one private high school and two public high schools which are part of the Jefferson Union High School District. Oceana High School in the central part of the city while Terra Nova High School and Pacific Bay Christian School are in the south. Many students in the northern part of Pacifica attend Jefferson High School or Westmoor High School nearby in adjacent Daly City. Oceana's teaching paradigm is geared toward longer classes, senior exhibitions, and mandated community service. Much larger Terra Nova is a more traditional institution, featuring numerous sports, clubs, and a broad-based and enriching educational experience.

Public libraries

San Mateo County Libraries, a member of the Peninsula Library System, operates the Pacifica-Sanchez Library and the Pacifica-Sharp Park Library. [52]

Notable residents

Sister city

Flag of Spain.svg Balaguer, Catalonia, Spain [57]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calera Creek</span>

Calera Creek is a stream in the Rockaway Beach and Vallemar neighborhoods of Pacifica, California. The creek is named for the limestone deposits and historical Rockaway Quarry located nearby. With headwaters in the Sweeney Ridge national park, this creek presently enjoys wetlands restoration from the Calera Creek Water Recycling Plant, and contains habitat for the California Red-legged Frog and San Francisco Garter Snake.

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Rockaway Beach photographed from the north, at the quarry. Calera Creek is visible.]] Rockaway Beach is a shoreline area of the Pacific Ocean in the southern portion of Pacifica, California, United States, approximately 7 miles (11 km) south of the city of San Francisco. It is located within a gently curving embayment with direct access via Rockaway Beach Avenue and providing easy access to Highway 1.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pedro Mountain Road</span>

Pedro Mountain Road describes a series of historical road crossings of Pedro Mountain, a promontory ridge located between Montara Mountain and the coastal cliffs of Devil's Slide in San Mateo County, California. This Pedro Mountain headland blocks the easy passage of coastal travelers between the Pedro Valley in Pacifica, California and Montara, California. The most prominent of these Pedro Mountain roads was Coastside Boulevard, the 1914 to 1937 coastal highway 57, which remains in use today as part of the trail network of McNee Ranch State Park.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Pedro Creek</span> River in California, United States

San Pedro Creek is a perennial stream in the City of Pacifica, San Mateo County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area whose tributaries originate on Sweeney Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Montara Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains.The creek mainstem flows 2.5 miles (4.0 km) through the San Pedro Valley to its mouth near Shelter Cove of the Pacific Ocean The stream is notable as the 1769 campsite for Gaspar de Portolà before he ascended Sweeney Ridge and discovered San Francisco Bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mori Point</span>

Mori Point is a 110-acre (0.4 km2) park located in Pacifica, California, that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Mori Point itself is a bluff next to the Pacific Ocean that provides scenic views of the peninsula coastline. In addition to the bluff and ridge, Mori Point contains a few small ponds and wetlands. Trails, many newly built, connect the ridgeline to the entrances to the park and to Sharp Park beach. A portion of the California Coastal Trail will run through Mori Point.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco Bay Discovery Site</span> United States historic place

The San Francisco Bay Discovery Site is a marker commemorating the first recorded European sighting of San Francisco Bay. In 1769, the Portola expedition traveled north by land from San Diego, seeking to establish a base at the Port of Monterey described by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602. When they reached Monterey, however, they were not sure it was the right place and decided to continue north. The party reached San Pedro Creek on October 31 and camped there for four nights, while scouts led by José Francisco Ortega climbed Sweeney Ridge, where they could see over the ridge toward the east, and so became the first Europeans to see San Francisco Bay on November 1.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rockaway Quarry</span> Limestone quarry in California

The Rockaway Quarry was a Calera limestone quarry in Pacifica, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Limestone from the site was first extracted by Ohlone from the village of Pruristac. Beginning in 1776, New Spaniards used California Indian labor to mine limestone and build structures like the Presidio and San Francisco missions. After the 1906 earthquake, the quarry's limestone was used to rebuild San Francisco. By the 1960s, operations declined, and the quarry permanently closed in 1987. Today it is privately held but is used as an informal hiking trail.


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